Principle 3: Design for Scale


Achieving scale is a goal that has been elusive for many digital development practitioners. The mHealth field, for example, has identified the problem of “pilotitis,” or the inability to move initiatives beyond pilot stage. Achieving scale can mean different things in different contexts, but it requires adoption beyond an initiative’s pilot population and often necessitates securing funding or partners that take the initiative to new communities or regions. Different implementers may define scale as reaching a certain percentage of a population or a certain number of users. Designing for scale means thinking beyond the pilot and making choices that will enable widespread adoption later, as well as determining what will be affordable and usable by a whole country or region, rather than by a few pilot communities. You may need to evaluate the trade-offs among processes that would lead to rapid start-up and implementation of a shortterm pilot versus those pilots that require more time and planning but lay the foundation for scaling by reducing future work and investment. By designing for scale from the beginning, your initiative can be expanded more easily to new users, markets, regions or countries if the initiative meets user needs and has local impact.