One of the biggest challenges to innovation is moving from a pilot to a production scale. Achieving scale is far from easy – it poses a significant challenge from a people, process and technology perspective. You are moving from a phase of ideation, exploration, collaboration and prototyping to a phase of structured delivery and change, this requires a different mindset and governance structure to drive the implementation.

During the ideation phase the team involved in the pilot are likely to have been hand-picked and will have become deeply committed to the success of the pilot and will see its triumph as part of their role. However, as you move to scale others will not naturally be as committed, so bringing the workforce or citizens along for the ride will need it be driven through leadership, engagement and clear communication. There are lots of techniques to manage change at scale – but these are very different to the strategies and techniques that work to enable a pilot.

The type of change

Small scale changes are more straight forward and running the project takes less structure. At small scale it is important to maintain a structure that enables a more flexible approach to new ideas. Large scale change however requires discipline and rigour – this does not mean you can’t use agile practices but it does require more organisation and structure to be successful.

The importance of vision

As you scale a project you need a clear vision that all stakeholders can align to, this not only helps to keep people focused on success but also makes sure that issues are resolved against the overall ambition. Unfortunately, this can be challenging as each stakeholder will have different motivations, so you must aim for transparency and be able to articulate the value the ‘change’ will bring to the organisation, stakeholders and customers. This will ensure you can deliver on your original vision.

Robust solutions

As a pilot its possible and desirable to avoid complexity but as the solution scales it needs discipline and rigour to work. Rigour includes addressing performance, reliability and security considerations. Security is particularly challenging in the current landscape and needs to be embedded into the design. When the solution scales to the entire organisation and ecosystem it will need to support thousands of users and millions of customers; it needs to work reliably and consistently, in most cases working 24×365.

Scaling innovation is a capability in its own right. In my experience, it is not about the technology but more about focusing on value/outcomes, stakeholder engagement and delivery rigour. The recent survey and report released on how to Scale digital innovative like a champion explores in more detail what is needed to become a Champion at moving from pilot to scale, but I would like you hear about your own experiences, challenges, successes or advice you would want to share. Please leave a comment below.

Other parts of this series:

  1. Achieving scale
  2. Culture is the key
  3. Not all innovative models are equal
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