A group of researchers from the CIMMYT, Jan Ubels from SNV Netherlands Development Organization, and Larry Cooley of Management Systems International, have been studying the process of scaling, to understand why successful (pilot) projects are no guarantee for success at scale. Their findings are now published in the article “Scaling – from “reaching many” to sustainable systems change at scale: A critical shift in mindset”. The authors argue that reaching the trans- formational goals of the SDGs requires interventions to be seen as a building block within a system of other initiatives aiming in the same direction. They go on to suggest that two major problems undermine efforts to foster scale through development projects. First, (pilot) projects are usually set up in a very controlled environment that does not reflect the real-world conditions that prevail at scale. Second, confusion on what scaling is and how it can be pursued often results in a narrow focus on reaching numbers. Counting household adoption at the end of a grant project is a poor metric of whether these people can and will sustain adoption after the project closes, let alone if adoption will reach others and actually contributes to improved livelihoods. The authors call for changing the scaling narrative from short term and piecemeal innovation to a narrative that recognizes the systemic nature of problems and solutions to achieve sustainable change at scale. This requires a different mindset, skills, and ways of collaborating than what we consider normal today. Finally, the authors present a number of frameworks that help to assess the scalability of innovations, design for scale from the onset of projects, and systematically think through key elements, ingredients, or success factors.

New Publication:

Maria Boa, “Scaling farming innovations: what, why and how”. CIMMYT’s News. June 2019. https://www.cimmyt.org/news/ scaling-farming-innovations-what-why-and-how/

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