How do you scale up a highly fragmented set of solutions when we lack more often than not the developed networks and the intermediaries that can assist?
In all I read and understand, the scaling up from that perfect local project into a regional than national one, is immensely hard. There are very few examples where the combination of coherence, comprehensiveness and broader outlook come together without significant changing of a workable local model. The art of communicating, of diffusing the skills, knowledge, understanding of the key variables, and the local experience, are vert hard to often translate into bigger enterprises. Much in social innovation is intangible, more than business; as it is in tacit knowledge that often successful social innovation solutions are made. The intangibles are often missed and the tangibles get all the focus and that is plainly wrong.
Also it is the ability to certainly raise the capital that often constrains this. Equally I have to say, it is often as difficult for business to scale but the social innovation model often can’t scale due to a total failure to recognize the mechanisms or levers to achieve that. Scale suffers if these levels are not fully recognized and understood on their mutual dependence. Great ‘local’ ideas just simply stay local and many poor attempts not adequately thought-through fail to deliver sadly, sometimes attracting public criticism.
The promise of ‘Impact investing’ might help resolve scaling
The promise of the combinations of a number of ultra- wealthy investors, high net-worth individuals, corporations and foundations all seeking to diversify, to leverage investment as a tool to drive social change can realize this ‘scale’ promise.
Clearly this emerging concept of ‘impact investing’ will not be easy but it does bring together all parties to attempt to drive impact and innovate in different fields where we have bigger social challenges. The key is it does need to generate shared value for all and that is going to be a hard road to travel. Focusing around robust social business models that can successfully scale will be part of this.
There are thousands of promising initiatives but one of the big problems being faced is few of these grown in scale. By combining within this diversity of minds wanting to invest and achieve social impact we might find some new ‘scaling’ models, to turn these good ideas into big impactful ones, that do begin to resolve some of those innovation challenges.
Scaling successfully is one of the real fronters to master in societal innovation.