By Amanda Fixsen, Karen Blase and Dean Fixsen
|What is involved in effective scaling up of innovations in order to achieve social impact? Here are four best practices, drawn from our experience in scaling up human services innovations and programs for children and families. We also provide definitions of the key terms used.
1. Understand the target audiences
Effectively scaling innovations first requires attention to defining the denominator, or population of interest for the scale-up effort, as well as the numerator, or the number of children and families who are receiving the innovation with fidelity and good outcomes.
2. Purposeful design leads to high-fidelity use
Human service systems are legacy systems comprised of an accumulation of fragments of past mandates, good ideas, beliefs, and ways of work that evolved over many decades as legislators, leaders, and staff have come and gone. These legacy systems can be fragmented, siloed and inefficient.
To realize social impact, organizations and systems need to be designed, or re-designed, on purpose to produce and sustain high-fidelity use of effective innovations.
3. Focus on scaling proven programs
Attempts to scale ineffective or harmful programs are a waste of time, money and opportunity, so programs must reliably produce positive outcomes for the population of interest.
Given that we are focused on scaling interaction-based programs that require service providers to use the program within a larger systems context, there is a great deal of complexity involved in “scaling up.” It may be difficult to assess the quality of the program for the children and families who are receiving it, as good fidelity measures for programs are not common.