In the world of social enterprise, a consistent mantra is the need to replicate, franchise, scale up…which somewhat overlooks the fact that some social entrepreneur-led organisations and initiatives are fit to their particular sphere or community….and nowhere else. Some projects are best kept at a certain scale (a size or catchment they may have been shaped to) and, also, to a certain duration (has anyone thought through what happens if every new project is eternally sustainable?).
Couple of interesting things worth a look in this context.
– An online discussion about "Why you shouldn’t scale up", in relation to E. F. Schumacher’s seminal "Small is Beautiful" concept; particularly interesting is the concept of scaling up ‘strategies or ideas’, rather than necessarily scaling up organisations and organisational frameworks….
– CAN’s new Pilot toolkit, which "takes you through three key stages of planning, monitoring and evaluating, providing the room and space for all the key players in your organization to contribute to its success"; you can download the Guide here and the Project Map here (both pdfs). It’s an interesting tool which SSE fed into…and could be used in various ways. It came out of their Beanstalk programme, which was set up to focus on social franchising, but widened to more general replication…..
– Also see an article about a (UK) social franchise that failed in Stanford Social Innovation Review: An Enterprising Failure (pdf); [see here for a brief description of Paul Harrod, one of the founders of the social franchise, Aspire, running a seminar in Oxford recently]
This topic is of interest to SSE not only because we are a social franchise (for various reasons: to avoid re-inventing the wheel; to bring expertise and experience to bear; to create genuine partnerships with local and regional organisations; to avoid parachuting in people from outside the area; to create a strong and vibrant network etc.), but also because it is a question that many of our students and fellows face….how to have the greatest impact / be most effective? Lean and mean, large and powerful? Or small and beautiful….