What are we learning about scaling from the Innovation in Giving portfolio? It’s a huge question and one that elicits different answers from colleagues, but here are my thoughts to add to the pot based on the ventures I’m working with.
Like a Rorschach inkblot test every new invention is open to interpretation. If you want to grow your social venture you need to make it incredibly easy for others to know what exactly it is and what impact or problem you’re trying to solve rather than leaving them to analyse and interpret your ‘inkblot’. You may think this is obvious, but I’ve lost count of the number of times ventures are unable to explain to me simply what it is they do.
There are many things we can learn from a cycling peloton, but what I want to draw out is the way the team works to protect their leader forging ahead in order to conserve the energy of the cyclist in the middle and not tire them out. Growing a social venture, or any venture, is hard and if you’re doing it on your own or in a small team is extremely tiring. If you want to scale, you need to take teamwork seriously; have a strategy for your team to take on roles and work together more effectively. Often, the burden falls to just one individual who can easily burn out. You will need others’ help to forge ahead - consider who would naturally advocate and spread the word on your behalf and use those connections.
In the fourth instalment of Harry Potter, Harry is rewarded with a bottle of Felix Felicis, known as ‘Liquid Luck’, for his winning potion. The magical potion makes the drinker lucky for a period of time, during which everything they attempt will be successful. It appears to work by providing the drinker with the best possible scenario – not by choosing one single scenario, but by changing paths as the situation unfolds. However, it’s meant to be used sparingly as it causes giddiness, recklessness and dangerous overconfidence if taken in excess!!