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Optimize and Adapt for Scale

Scaling is hard, but continuing to leverage design principles can set you up for success.


Suggested Time

Several weeks to several months, depending on solution and the context

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed



Design team, M&E Specialist

Process Phase

Preparing for scale will almost always require some optimization or adaptation. New users will bring new needs. New partners will bring new capabilities. New funders will bring new performance targets. Typically some trade-offs are required to balance the integrity of your human-centered solution with a model that is efficient enough for scale. Continued iterations of research, prototyping and optimization are the key to a successful fine-tuning.


  1. Building on the optimization needs you identified during the Exploring Scalability activity, define what iterations you need to make and test. In addition to your core users, give attention to new distribution partners or frontline implementers. They solution has to be desirable, feasible and viable for every stakeholder if they are to stay engaged
  2. Then choose your learning approach. If you expect to make only small tweaks then you could run a quick Live Prototyping activity to validate those changes. If you anticipate significant adaptations then Rapid Prototyping would be better, running diverse, quick and scrappy tests on components before deciding what adaptations to take forward.
  3. Your final iterations will likely involve amplifying the parts of your solution that are most effective and trimming or replacing aspects that are not working as well. You’ll need to ensure that these adaptations do not compromise the design elements that have made your solution effective in the first place. Make a list of any risks and plan to track for these through the Monitor and Evaluate activity.
  4. Finally, invest time in packaging up any guidance that new implementation or distribution partners will need to effectively roll out your solution. Good training is paramount. Establish a new Roadmap for Success together so everyone is aligned on scale goals and milestones.