Innovation without replication is a waste of time.

Spring Impact Director Greg Coussa and Kevin Starr Director of the Mulago Foundation and the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program. Present this collaboratively written piece, published in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) about the limits of innovation and the power of replication.

“Innovation is just so … sexy.

To attack an empty whiteboard with a fistful of markers is to experience the dawn of creation, and a wall festooned with Post-Its pretty much guarantees a break-though. Rapid prototyping sounds cool even if you don’t know what it is, and who wouldn’t want to be the subject of a breathless article in Fast Company? Someday, if you play your cards just right, you could even be summoned to the TED stage. Wow!

Everybody’s doing it: Even the big international NGOs—the BINGOs—are getting in on the action with a wave of innovation labs and rejiggered mission statements. Whee!

I hate to be the skunk at the party, but look: The most urgent challenge in the social sector is not innovation, but replication. No idea will drive big impact at scale unless organizations—a lot of them—replicate it. And there are plenty of high-impact ideas awaiting high-quality replication. More than a few of them are backed by randomized controlled trial (RCT) results and all that stuff. It turns out that replication matters even more than innovation when it comes to impact at scale…”

Read the full article here

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