Deploying your projects and ideas on a large scale

N°318a – Synopsis (8 p.) – Growth
Deploying your projects and ideas on a large scale
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Once an idea or project has demonstrated its potential, what could be more logical than seeking to extend its reach? This “scaling-up” phase is an indispensable step, but a perilous one. How can you ensure the reliability of your large-scale deployments?

Scale-ups, those start-ups that have managed to change scale through spectacular hypergrowth, are a source of admiration for most observers. And yet the challenge is a significant one, and the model still struggles to establish its profitability.

Indeed, the difficulties encountered are rather similar to those faced by any company seeking to deploy large-scale projects. Whether the aim is disseminating an innovation, extending a franchise, or rolling out new ways of working or a new organizational model across all of one’s entities, the ambition remains the same: replicating the initial success, by reaching more people in more places.

However, generalizing even the most convincing demonstration or pilot version is fraught with pitfalls. We can carry out advanced tests, analyze every risk and key success factor, meticulously plan the deployment, yet setbacks remain almost inevitable, and failures numerous. For example, the Opower energy optimization platform had created a connected thermostat linked to a mobile application. Initial testing promised significant energy savings. And yet, the expected savings failed to materialize when the product was deployed on a large scale across the United States: consumers, entrenched in their thermal comfort habits, did not conform to recommendations and increased the temperatures programmed on the device. Similarly, conclusive testing convinced a fast-food chain to bet on a premium spin-off of its franchise. The failure was resounding. Executives came to belatedly understand that the customers who had agreed to test the recipes actually had more refined tastes than the average ones, which had skewed the experiment.

The potential causes for failure are manifold and overlapping, but all of them come down to a single observation: taking a project to the next level is never a simple matter of “copy-pasting”. Deployment isn’t homothetic, but rather a process of simultaneous reproduction and evolution. Some hurdles can be anticipated; others remain unpredictable. It is therefore essential to be vigilant and keep in mind that we will need to adapt.

In this synopsis:
– Drawing the lessons from a pilot project
– Large-scale deployment: four principles of vigilance
– Knowing when to pivot to overcome limits to growth

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