Weighing in on Scale

by Nikki Korn

PBLN_in_WashingtonScale is the “hot” word and theme that is permeating my work, research and interactions with my peers from the CSR and philanthropy arenas.  How do we scale proven nonprofit models?  How do we scale green business models and innovations?  How can companies take great philanthropic programs and scale them across the globe?  The list of questions goes on…

Recently, I joined 75 business leaders in Washington, DC as part of the Progressive Business Leaders Network to share our voice around key policy issues with select representatives from Congress and to hear from them about current “bills in the works.”  We tackled many issues, including sustainability, education, workforce issues, financial reform, among others in a jam packed schedule.  It turns out that no matter the conversation, we consistently returned to a discussion about the challenge of scale.

The day kicked off with the core message of why we were even in DC–as Andy Tarsy, Executive Director, PBLN stated, “…you can’t take ideas to scale without government.”

Having worked in the CSR arena now for more than 15 years, I see a huge shift happening–no longer are companies and business leaders scared to collaborate and partner with government–they are realizing that they can’t make significant impact without cross sector collaboration.

That’s when some may pause and think…” isn’t it crazy and way too hard to engage with government?”  My conclusion right now is that our work should be hard.  It should be about bringing new and unexpected players ‘to the table.’ It should be about finding new ways to approach social problems, so we can start to truly tackle scale and help the many and not just the few.

I am looking forward to getting out of my traditional comfort zone.  Join me — try something new.  Talk with new stakeholders.  Consider embracing some unexpected partners in your work.  Let me how know it is going.

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