Scale for impact

In the 20th century, the signs of an influential organization were obvious: more offices, more members, more dollars, more everything. But in our times, some of the most influential organizations are those that make the biggest impact with the smallest number of people – be it a digital startup or a terror cell.

This idea is called “scale for impact.” It animated a discussion Andrew Benedict-Nelson chaired at the Ashoka Future Forum. Flipping the usual format, he asked the assembled social entrepreneurs what decisions they had made to increase their impact without growing in size.

“The ability to generate demand for your mission is key to successful scaling, and generating demand requires new structures, new thinking and new networks,” Ashoka’s Avani Patel reported in Forbes after the event. “In a world where everyone can—and must—be a changemaker, we must be willing to constantly adapt our models, avoid repetition, and find partners in unlikely places.”

This wasn’t the only time we took on this problem with Ashoka; we also worked with their team to ask how we might scale up empathy in schools.