Scaling Innovation: Turning Ground-breaking Ideas into Global Change

By Luke Hayman, Head of Scaling Innovation, Save the Children In the ever-evolving world of international development, innovation is key to making a lasting impact. Yet, the challenge remains: how can brilliant ideas, hatched at the local level, reach and benefit millions worldwide? How do global concepts validate their effectiveness across diverse regions? At Save the Children, scaling innovation is not just a goal - it is a necessity we are determined to achieve. “We need to explicitly confront the obstacles that stand between successful pilot projects with viable solutions and taking these solutions to a scale that can tackle the magnitude of the challenges. Our challenge is not just finding an effective vaccine for malaria, for example. The development challenge is to put in place a process that will deliver the vaccine to the millions of people whose lives would be saved by it”, Isabel Guerrero from her book ‘Scaling Up Development Impact'.

Photo: Conor Ashleigh, Save the Children, 2023

Before we can improve, we must clearly define what we aim to enhance. At Save the Children, we have realized two key insights: successful scaling examples are surprisingly rare, and we often lack a unified understanding of what scaling truly means. Many think it is merely about expanding and replicating efforts across different regions.

“Scale isn’t just another word for growth. Scale is about busting out of a linear trajectory into an ever steepening – exponential, even – curve of impact over time. A scalable solution is one that has the potential to make a big dent in a big social problem, maybe even solve the whole thing.” – Kevin Starr, Managing Director of the Mulago foundation[1]

We have recently started using Mulago Foundation’s definition of scale which has really helped us think more clearly about where we’re trying to get to: ‘finding a doer-at-scale that isn’t us, and finding a payer-at-scale that isn’t reliant traditional donors with project-based financing’. This definition underscores that scaling often requires adapting the approach to enable broader uptake.

The “pizza analogy”🍕: Imagine you make an outstanding pizza beloved by friends and family. Scaling up to restaurants nationwide means adapting the recipe for diverse chefs, sourcing ingredients flexibly, and optimizing preparation processes. Similarly, scaling a program approach involves adapting implementation for wider application

How do you scale?


We have recently developed a draft Scaling Methodology, using our innovative Catch-up Clubs as a test case. This methodology guides innovators and program managers in scaling efforts. Throughout the year, we will refine this approach with various programs.

We have begun conducting light-touch scaling audits on various innovation programs and have identified several critical factors for success:

  • The problem being addressed must be both significant and urgent
  • The approach should substantially improve current practices, whether by enabling something that was previously impossible, or by enhancing efficiency, speed, cost-effectiveness, or equity of existing approaches
  • Credible evidence must support the effectiveness of the approach.
  • The approach should be feasible for others to implement in the future
Learn more about our Scaling Methodology

Dive in to explore how you can apply these insights to your own work!

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Example in Action


BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation initiative has served as a catalyst for the global adoption and adaptation of graduation approaches, influencing a wide range of stakeholders to develop and implement similar programs aimed at lifting the ultra-poor out of extreme poverty.

As of 2021, nearly 92 million people across 75 countries have been reached by 219 economic inclusion programs influenced by BRAC’s Graduation approach – far more than they would have been able to support directly.



Scaling innovation is not just about expansion; it’s about adapting and evolving to create lasting global change. Together, we can transform brilliant ideas into widespread, impactful solutions.

Do you want to know more about scaling innovation? You will find everything you need on the Resource Centre. 



[1] Source:

By: Elena Lefebvre

Last updated: 2024-06-7

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