To Scale Up, Don't Spread Your Organization -- Coach The Future Leaders Of Your Field
In 1967, a physician and nurse named Cicely Saunders founded St. Christopher’s Hospice to demonstrate her vision for how to care for patients at the end of their lives. Under her stewardship, St. Christopher’s became a center for innovation and excellent care, but also for education and research. And Saunders spread the idea relentlessly through teaching, research, prolific writing, and an endless list of awards and honors. Thus was born the modern hospice movement, which has changed attitudes about the delivery of treatment, while influencing policies, principles and techniques that are now applied throughout the world when it comes to end-of-life care.
What’s most counter-intuitive about the spread of the hospice idea is that Saunders never replicated St. Christopher’s elsewhere, nor grew its own work beyond London. This flies in the face of the default paradigm of scale—build an organization, set up franchises, and end with running a multi-national enterprise. Rather, she brought the idea to the United States through speaking at the Yale Nursing school, where she inspired its dean, Florence Wald, to spearhead the hospice concept across the U.S.
Educating the future leaders of your field can scale your innovation more effectively than building out your organizational empire. For social entrepreneurs, this may well be the future of scale.