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Engineering Complex Scaled Up Innovations

This white paper is written by Dan McClure (Innovation Design Practice Leader, Thoughtworks) and Ian Gray (Director, Gray Dot Catalyst). This is the third of four contributions on the subject of 'Innovation Scaling' submitted for the 'Transformation Through Innovation' theme for the World Humanitarian Summit.  Here are the links to the first and second parts. 

This is the third paper in a series of four developed in association with the World Humanitarian Summit.  The premise of these papers is that scaling of Humanitarian Innovations fails so frequently because it actually represents two new problem domains, one of Scaling Up and another of Scaling Out.  We call this area of the innovation lifecycle the “Missing Middle”, and it helps explain why so many pilots seem to stall, failing to go to scale despite their promise.
This paper looks at the complex architecture needed for Scaled Up innovations.  If the prior paper was about management, this is about engineering.  We look at how lightweight pilot programs, which include many intentional gaps and compromises, require a great deal of added complexity to become a scaled up, sustainable solution. 

Since there are a diverse range of challenges that commonly need attention, we have grouped the gaps into four categories; Completeness, Compromise, Connection and Commercials.  These 4 C’s provide a kind of high-level checklist of scaled up solution attributes. In a field that too often assumes pilots can simply be replicated as is, the 4 C's offer Scale Up leaders and program sponsors a simple framework for discussing the range of work associated with a complex and messy scale up journey.

To read the complete paper, click here. 

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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