Barriers to Innovation Scaling:
Commitment to move beyond pilots – most partnerships that have been underway in pilot have proven their impact but have stumbled when it comes to scaling. Partly due to financing and investment constraints, but also due to slow responsiveness and lack of agility to “fail-fast”, internalise the lessons learnt in piloting and recalibrate for success.
Harnessing technologies to leapfrog traditional growth trajectories – companies, especially large corporates, like most people, resist change. Delivering innovation at scale is perceived a little like “Fixing what isn’t broken” For innovation to be embedded and truly scalable, traditional growth, business, operating and deliver models should be questioned – is there a completely new way we could do this? Mobile in Africa hold great promise, if the mobile network operators can (1) provide reliable and consistent signal coverage, (2) provide affordable mechanisms for people to adopt new technologies (especially smart phones) and (3) manage allocation of spectrum, a finite resource for all MNO’s
Making funding models sustainable from the outset – A key barrier to scaling innovations beyond pilots is breaking the poverty cycle by supplementing the aid flows sustainably. Two elements are needed to achieve this (1) a tangible mechanism to source and cultivate revenue streams in pilots from the outset, and grow these in tandem as the pilot grows and matures and (2) think like an entrepreneurs and embed and formalise mechanisms to transfer of skills, capacity and knowledge to the beneficiaries, creating ownership of the outcomes and sustainability of the programme without dependence on outside parties, development agencies or otherwise.
Business not being able to make pilots commercially viable – even at scale. This is partly due to “best-case- scenario” business cases being presented for funding decisions or some vague assumptions caveating the numbers. I believe the cause of this is due to not truly and deeply understanding and proving how the innovation in pilot is solving the real issue faced by the beneficiaries. This, in turn, is an outcome of working in isolation and not taking a systemic, cross-sectoral view on how to address issues. Without deep community knowledge of the issue, often the outcome is not relevant or appropriate to solve the issue that the community faces. Businesses, grantees and governments cannot fund programmes indefinitely, so commercial viability and volume, even with minute margins, must be the
real issue that is solved for in pilots
Government’s ability to address fast-paced changes in demand – the bureaucracy under which they must operate directly impedes their ability to respond timeously and proactively to changes in their communities. We live in a orld now where what is true and real today, is not that tomorrow – governments are scrambling to keep up and must not focus in the short –term, but solve for the issues anticipated in 10-20+ years, building resilience and flexibility into their programmes consistently.
Mismatch between Pilot success factors and actual impact delivered – In my experience with partnerships, often pilot measure their success on factors not aligned to the impact needing to be delivered to solve the real development issue. In theory is does, indirectly, but in reality it is seldom measured as a key outcome. I’d like to see business, governments and development agencies working to measure the impacts and communicate successes along the specific goals of the SDG’s e.g. % poverty reduced, % increase in gender balance in schools, number of lives saved through access to healthcare…
Lack of collaboration and true partnering – over the last 10 years, Accenture Development Partnerships has seen an evolution of Partnerships from:
- isolated philanthropic contributions unrelated to business, to
- opportunistic projects that bring the strength of the partners capabilities, to
- strategic partnerships where development issues are addressed directly with long term focus, to
- shared-value partnerships that have a meaningful source of competitive advantage.
Now, we are seeing more partnerships being set up that are transformational in nature meaning they are setting out to systemically change the status quo and work at the market level, improving enabling environments and setting global standards – it is these transformational partnerships that will drive the market-changing innovations that will push us into new paradigms
Zahid Torres-Rahman said:
Great contributions! Let's move onto our second set of questions:
What are some of the key drivers and barriers to innovations reaching scale sustainably and what are the essential enabling conditions required for success?