Where We're Going
By Richard Harwood
January 1, 2015
"Scale" and "scaling change" are terms that are thrown around so much in professional circles that they have become cliché. Yet, for all of us in the business of improving lives and building stronger communities, they are the terms that often are the source of both our frustration and our inspiration. For to scale is to expand the positive impact one has and to do it in a way that sustains your ability to keep going. And who wouldn't want either of those things?
At The Harwood Institute, my colleagues and I have wrestled with notions of scale for years. In my last blog, I noted that our work has led us to the conclusion that communities need new kinds of leaders. We call them public innovators -- leaders who bridge dividing lines and not only solve problems, but strengthen the capacity of communities themselves. We have set a bold goal to develop 5,000 public innovatorsby 2016 to create a stronger force for change in communities and across the country. To get there will require us to tackle this vexing issue of scale. (Truth be told, I actually like the term "spread" better than "scale" -- when things work well, our approach is spread to others by those who are using it.)
Today, our Institute develops public innovators by teaching and coaching them to turn outward -- to use their community, not their conference room, as their reference point for their judgments and actions. We know through experience than when people and organizations turn outward, they produce greater impact and relevance in their communities.