A New Prototype on Scaling: Across, Through, Around

Hamish Lindop
2 min readMar 14, 2024

I’ve been grappling with the context of scaling in social innovation for a number of years. We can see that new systemic innovations which are likely to benefit people could potentially benefit more people. But we also know that “copy and paste” innovation can be dangerous in a social or community setting. I’ve been influenced quite a bit by the “scaling up/out/deep” model for a while now.

But recently a lot of thinking has been percolating generatively thanks to different conversations and explorations, and I’ve come up with an iteration on the above, a testable prototype for a new way of thinking and doing scaling in (social) innovation which has three dimensions (so far):

  1. Scaling Across (contextually sensitive) — if you know me you’ll know I’ve been working on testing and adapting the participatory city approach for some years. More and more, what I’m seeing, is that while the principles can be useful in a lot of places, the application needs to be VERY context sensitive I loved this post about scaling across in winemaking, with some great cautionary notes about conventional scaling out/up.
  2. Scaling Through (developmentally sensitive) — This is quite a can of worms, so see more about it here. I believe this has the potential to reframe the notion of “scaling deep”, since how deeply specific people, groups, systems, etc, want to engage in deep mindset change seems to depend a lot on developmental readiness.
  3. Scaling Around(metasystemically sensitive): I’ve been noticing for a while that something like participatory city approach, and participatory democracy are probably mutually reinforcing systemic approaches; people’s agency increases in both, making them more ready for the other, to name one simple likely mutual multiplier. Thanks to Caroline-Sanz Vietch and Participatory Melbourne for their exploration that they shared with me (see image below excerpted from it), which helped prompt my thinking about a “system of systems” which could create mutually reinforcing metacoherence.
From Participatory Melbourne Phase 1 Insights Report

I’d love to hear your reflections, challenges, tutus (modifications/tinkers/remashes) to this prototype, but most of all, I’d love for anybody to test this prototype in the real world and create some data, knowledge and practice based wisdom. Please let me know if you do!

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Hamish Lindop

Sharing insights from community building and social innovation, and reflections on ways of (well) being