Scaling the Impact of HCD Solutions

Feb 3, 2023

What does scale mean in the context of human-centered design solutions? In scale, solutions find ways to have a greater impact by maximizing the resources available. As such, social solutions at scale are focused on the problem they are addressing rather than simply growing the solution. Scale is different from growth in that at scale, the impact of a solution is increased exponentially while adding resources gradually. Growth on the other hand is concerned with adding resources at the same rate as adding impact or revenue. 

“Scale is about impact and not growth. Instead of thinking, how can we scale up our solution, we should instead think about how we can solve problems at scale. The trick lies in falling in love with solving a problem.”  – Alice Metcalf, Senior Consultant, Spring Impact 

Examples of HCD interventions that have scaled their solutions

1. Parenting for Respectability

In Uganda, the Child Health and Development Center (CHDC) set out to create a solution to harsh and violent parenting. Through a 16 session community-led program,  mothers and fathers were taken through practices aimed at reducing violent parenting. CHDC noted that parents who attended the sessions left equipped with less harsh parenting methodologies. In this case study, Child Health and Development Centre: Preventing Violence against Children and gender-based violence across Uganda at scale, read how Spring Impact helped CHDC scale the intervention across Uganda.   

2. Diva Centers

Spring Impact, MSI Reproductive Choices and formed a strategic partnership to scale up an innovative reproductive health program for teenage girls across Zambia. Listen to this podcast episode that details the scaling journey for the Divine Divas intervention.

Mindsets for scale

Shifting mindsets means altering long-ingrained organizational practices. When embarking on your scaling journey, mindset shifts must occur within your teams and organizations. For example, mindset shift was fundamental for CHDC. The shift helped the enterprise identify other supportive activities that can be done to better  address the problem on violent parenting at scale, beyond just implementing the solution. Here are some of the mindsets at scale:

IMPACT FIRST Scale is about growth Scale is about impact 
PROBLEM OVER SOLUTION How can we scale up our solution? How can we solve the problem at scale? 
COLLABORATION BY DEFAULT How can we maximise our own achievement? What roles do we and others need to play in service of the problem?
LEAN LEARNING  We’ll make a detailed plan and stick to it We’ll test and adapt quickly to reduce risk
RUTHLESSLY STRATEGIC  We want to do everything that is impactful We’re willing to make difficult choices given limited resources
LONGTERM COMMITMENT  We want to achieve results for this year We’re investing in long-term lasting impact


“Shifting mindsets is not something that comes naturally. It’s something that can be really difficult and often requires a conscious effort to continuously remind and challenge yourself to think differently.” – Alice Metcalf

Scale pathways: Strategies for addressing a problem

What does scale really look like in practice? Scale pathways amplify that there are many strategies for addressing a problem at scale. Different organizations can pick different pathways to address their challenge based on the approach that fits their needs and constraints. For instance, one of the strategies that CHDC used is ‘increase quality’. This was an important approach for CHDC because they wanted to increase the quality of what they were doing by leaning on their strong background as a research institute. Thus the enterprise was continuously learning whether they were achieving the most impact by refining their solution to have the greatest impact on the parents they serve. The pathway on increasing quality is a good example of scaling by going deeper with the end users your solution is working with.

Here are more examples of strategies for addressing a problem as presented by Spring Impact. 

  1. Diversity Communities Served 
  2. Diversify Solutions 
  3. Increase Quality
  4. Increase Market Penetration/ Coverage/Density
  5. Replicate (expand to new geographies)
  6. Change or create markets
  7. Influence Public Policy
  8. Influence a Social Movement 

Building for Scale

There are 3 lenses which are essential for organizations to be successful at scale. It’s important for social enterprise solutions to be built with all these lenses in mind. 

  • Impact: Does this solution really make people’s lives better. Is it really helping to address the societal problem? Working in the social sector, this is likely to be the part of the model that many of us agree with and is in the front of our minds as something that we really need to to get right.
  • Value: Is this solution something that people really want, will demand over time and will really engage with? Even if you have created a solution which works really well from an impact perspective, it’s going to be limited in terms of the value it can have if the people who are supposed to be benefiting from the solution don’t show up, don’t want the solution or  don’t engage with it. So it’s really important to create something that people demand.

“Value is about creating something that people genuinely demand and really want to engage with.” – Alice Metcalf

  •  Sustainability: Can the solution impact a lot of people sustainably?

“When we work with organizations who are wanting to scale, sustainability is usually an afterthought. Enterprises say that their solutions are impactful and valuable, but they’re unsure if it’s something that can be sustainable at scale, which is why we think sustainability should be inbuilt from the start.”- Alice Metcalf. 

The framework for scaling impact is a great tool for practitioners looking to create impact at scale

About Spring Impact

Spring Impact is a global not-for-profit organization born out of frustration. Frustration that some of the best, world changing social innovations that should scale up don’t, and that scarce resources in the social impact space are wasted on constantly reinventing the wheel. 

Over the last 10 years, using a combination of successful and tested commercial and social principles while drawing on extensive practical expertise and a unique scaling methodology, they’ve supported over 300 organizations across the world to solve social problems on a much larger scale. 



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  3. Scaling HCD solutions presentation slides
  4. Q&A on scaling HCD projects
  5. Take a course on Scaling