Reflections on the first phase of Scale Accelerator

Our Scale Accelerator cohort have now completed the crucial first phase of the programme – ‘Scale Strategy development’. What does this phase actually entail?

Over the past few months we have been working with seven of the UK’s leading mission-driven organisations on our Scale Accelerator Programme. The cohort have now completed the crucial first phase of the programme – ‘Scale Strategy development’.

But what is it like to go through the process? And what does developing a Scale Strategy actually entail?

Starting with End Game

It is often tempting for organisations to jump straight into how they are going to Scale. However, it is important to start with why. This allows an organisation to step back and strategically plan what it wants to achieve from scale and the steps it will need to take to prepare.

We always start with exploring why an organisation wants to scale its impact, rather than just growth for the sake of it. Working with each organisations’ staff and board, our consulting teams help the cohort identify their social and business objectives for scale.

Social objectives cover the change that an organisation wants to have at scale. We run strategy workshops and meetings with the senior leadership team and often members of the board, helping them reconnect with their core mission to create impact.

We help the teams reflect on the problem they are trying to address, the role they want to play in the long term and define what success would look like for the organisation. We agree specific, measurable targets around how many lives they want to change, the outcomes they want to see and their target geographic locations.

The business objectives cover how scale will support organisational development. We discuss funding for scale in the long-term and corporate objectives such as increasing brand awareness or developing evidence base.

Getting ready to scale

During this phase our consultants also carry out a diagnostic to identify what steps the organisations will need to take to prepare for scale. We interview each organisations’ stakeholders, visit their projects and carry out research into their external environment.

We know this stage can be challenging for organisations; often issues come to the fore that might not have previously been clear. However, we think it’s important to put them in the best possible position to be ready to scale. The types of things we look for are covered in our Replication Readiness Test.

Results

The Scale Strategy process has helped the cohort with everything from gaining greater internal clarity and confidence in their approach to scale, to prioritising where they will invest their time and resources

Our schools based organisations shared ideas for supporting social mobility in the education sector at our residential training

Prioritising resources

One organisation signed up to Scale Accelerator because they were inundated with requests from other locations that want to adopt their model. However, on developing their mission and defining their End Game, the team agreed they should focus the majority of their resources on their local community. The organisation wants to achieve a lot more locally, to demonstrate the impact of their work to policy makers, ultimately leading to national take up of their model in the long term.

Understanding potential to scale

Another organisation joined Scale Accelerator with a dilemma around trying to decide which of their two programmes they wanted to scale.

We helped the team assess internal and external factors that make a project more likely to succeed at scale. Then, working with their senior leadership team and board to assess which of the programmes would be more strategically aligned, we helped them gain consensus over which programme to prioritise.

Identifying who will support scale

Many of the organisations joined Scale Accelerator with an idea of how they would scale. They assumed they would grow their staff teams or set up branches to deliver their model in new locations.

However, by thinking through how the impact of their models would be sustained the future, many of the organisations have changed their approach. They believe it is more likely their social impact will be sustained in the long-term if they can influence other organisations to adopt their models.

They acknowledge this means there will likely be variation in how their model is delivered and with that comes a risk to quality. We will be working with them in the next stage to develop strategies to mitigating risk to quality.

What happens next?

The cohort are now starting the Design process, where we start to help them think about how they can scale in more detail. We work with the senior leadership and operational staff to identify what types of partnerships they will need to develop, how systems and processes might need to change, what skills they will need in their teams and the funding they will need to make it happen.

We are now looking for organisations to join our next Scale Accelerator cohort.

This time, we are piloting an issues-led version of the programme, focusing on projects that support people who face multiple disadvantage such as homelessness or substance abuse.

If you’re interested in scaling your impact read more about how to apply below:

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