On the ground
Scaling success and making it sustainable
Do you have a scale-up strategy?
Considerations about how to scale and sustain impact over the long term can be transformative for programmatic success. But we recognise that bringing success to scale is not easy, and depends a great deal on the communities, personalities, political will and resources involved. This is an area where we, together with our partners, continue to explore and test. Nevertheless, a few key considerations are often useful, regardless of intervention and geography.
How can you strengthen your scale-up plan?
Building-in strategies for growing the knowledge and capacity both of your technical team members and your political champions can be just as important as a clear timeline, budget, impact indicators, monitoring plan and communications strategy.
Can you be even bolder?
Could your project be expanded to incorporate wider community needs or more locations? Is it possible to support the establishment or funding of a technical position in charge of early childhood training for municipal designers? Can your diverse team or your project’s results to date support the inclusion of early childhood development considerations in policy recommendations, technical standards and/or design guidelines?
How do you keep your team motivated?
As the programme expands and the workforce grows, how can you continue to support both the frontline workforce and your team of designers and technical and management staff, so that they remain purposefully engaged toward the same vision and goals. How do you ensure that individual commitment remains strong, and that each individual is recognised for their efforts and work?
How can you support peer learning and inform future projects?
Consider convening a workshop or event to share learning and show impact. Additionally, how can you support advocacy and communications about the benefits of the intervention for the city as a whole, and specifically for caregivers and their children? How can you partner with the expert and local communities to document, publish and disseminate findings so that your experience can inform future work?
Scale-up strategy considerations
How to create a scale-up strategy
Together with your team, create your own definition of scale. Consider what reaching scale would look like in your own city context and in relation to the overall scale of the problem you are addressing. Here is a definition of scale and scalability:
Scale or scalability is moving a program, practice, or methodology use and application from a small scale—that is, a few regions, a few villages, or several districts, reaching a small portion of the population/potential target audience, to large scale—that is, national coverage, the majority of the districts or villages, reaching the majority of the population/potential target audience. Scaling also requires the ability to tailor approaches to the different needs of different population segments, including the most vulnerable.
As you think through your scaling strategy, consider its sustainability. This is how we define sustainability:
Sustainability is the ability of a country / city / administrative unit, with minimal or no outside financial or technical assistance, to continue the work needed to (1) encourage and maintain early childhood development policies, programs and/or services, (2) increase and maintain the number of people being covered by the policy and accessing/using the program or service in place or practicing promoted caregiving behaviours, and (3) implement program(s) needed to address new emerging factors that could affect children’s development.
Once you have created your definition, our partners have found it instructive to:
- Set clear goals (as specific as possible): What is being scaled, for whom and by whom?
- Develop a plan/strategy for reaching those goals: What is your proposed scaling approach, are there different possible pathways?
- Consider what (if any) changes you might need to make to your idea to deliver it at (larger) scale: What elements are essential and which can be reduced for a more cost-effective approach? Are there economies of scale?
- Consider any (new) key partnerships and resources required.
In our experience, these considerations can be very helpful in informing and tracking the journey towards scale:
- Diversity of leadership: Who are your key ‘allies’ from across different departments, sectors, organisations? With whom do you share the scaling-up key performance indicators?
- Robust workforce: Is the workforce well trained in relation to the programme or intervention you are implementing, and ready for a scale-up?
- Anchoring in policy: What legislation, policy frameworks, plans could anchor the various initiatives and ensure their sustainability?
- Strong diverse civic engagement: Is there demand among civil society for the ideas you are scaling? How can you help foster this active engagement?
- Sustainable, predictable financing: Are there dedicated budget lines to fund the intervention at scale, including longer-term maintenance and updates?
- Effective governance and management: Is there a dedicated full-time position in charge of coordinating the scale-up across agencies and organisations? Are there regular, frequent meetings between all the decision makers involved?
- Actionable monitoring and evaluation systems: Is there a shared and clear set of indicators to track the scale-up process, and evaluate impact? Is there a data dashboard on early childhood development available for the decision makers and for the general public?
- Cost-effective ideas and costing data: Is data on costing being gathered and monitored during the scale-up?