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Scaling: Innovation’s Missing Middle

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

Despite enthusiasm for small-scale investment in piloting new innovations, there appears to be a broad failure in the Humanitarian Sector’s ability to scale up and scale out successful ideas. 

This creates a need to understand and address the neglected elements of the innovation lifecycle that lie between the conclusion of a pilot program and the ultimate wide scale operation and optimization of an established program. 

This is innovation’s missing middle. It is a complex space that needs much more attention if an ever growing number of pilot program investments are to “grow up” and deliver meaningful value in the world. 

Both authors are hands on practitioners of innovation within an enterprise context. Dan has spent several decades driving innovations with global commercial enterprises and government agencies.  Ian has 15 years experience in the Development and Humanitarian sectors and has been directly engaged in leading innovation in the areas of their development, humanitarian and policy work.   

Leveraging this hands-on perspective and interviews with key figures engaged in developing, managing and funding innovation in the humanitarian sector, this paper seeks to provide a framework for thinking about what blocks scaling and how to technically progress from proven idea to broad based operation. We hope this will help organisations as they attempt to fund, manage, and execute the scaling journey.  

To read the complete white paper, download the PDF 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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