Four factors to keep in mind when scaling up
All the different approaches to scaling up that I’ve explored in my research involve different versions of the following four factors:
1. Broad Participation – Sometimes it’s the number of people involved, sometimes it’s their targeted diversity (diverse demographics or stakeholders), sometimes it’s participants’ connectivity to broader networks. Whatever it is, the people involved are strategically chosen for their impact outside of the room.
2. Public visibility – Usually this takes the form of journalism and other media reporting. It often involves notable transparency. The point is that thousands or millions of people can see and/or hear the essence of what is happening or has just happened in the conversation and/or are exposed to its significance and energy in powerful ways.
3. Narrative engagement – Conversation designers who wish to scale up know the power of story to evoke, model and spread people’s understanding and engagement. They tap this power through enabling observers to vicariously experience the conversational process and/or through a compelling vision that gets painted in the inspiring salience and scope of its conclusions.
4. Impact – This can range from the number of citizens influenced to how the results feed into subsequent powerful conversations, particularly those of leaders of all types at all levels. It can come from new linkages between leaders and stakeholder networks, from changed perspectives and real actions taken by citizens, stakeholders and policy-makers, and even from the process being institutionalized within the structures of governance.