At the first conversation somebody observed ‘we are asked to work at scale but I don’t know what scale is’.

I don’t know if there is or could be an agreed definition of scale. But I have collaborated with a range of organisations focused on scale and can tell you what I have learned.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set out to reduce preventable deaths of children around the world. They had many tried and tested innovations to achieve that goal. But it was preventing death they set out to scale, not the innovations. The Association of Camarados consider friends and purpose to be the answer to all our problems. They reckoned that cafés in libraries was a way of achieving the goal, but ended up with teepees in hospitals. They scaled neither café not teepee. They scaled friends and purpose. (Actually, it was altruism and mutual aid that we measured but that was a different story). WEvolution are scaling women in control of their lives. Self-reliant groups are at the heart of their work.

But as we say to them, if wearing yellow hats gets tens of thousands of women back in control of their lives, that is what we will do.

This outlook has many consequences, some of which are summarised in other lessons about scale -see mass produce the personal for example.

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