April 6, 2016

Recommended Reads: April 2016

This month's reading list includes a New York Times article on Medicare's planned expansion of the diabetes prevention program; the shift of the sharing economy from social movement to economic model; for-profit insights on how to strike a balance when scaling; and more.

By: Jeff Bradach

We’re constantly looking for different takes and new insights about achieving impact at a transformative scale. Here are five interesting pieces we came across recently: 

1. Medicare Proposal Takes Aim at Diabetes: The New York Times highlights a planned Medicare expansion to cover diabetes prevention for 22 million high-risk Americans age 65 or older. The YMCA’s success in delivering a low-cost diabetes-prevention program with a strong return on investment helped pave the way (see this article about using national networks as platforms to scale what works, featuring a member of our Transformative Impact Collaborative, BELL), with the Times article noting that, “The results of [the YMCA’s] demonstration project vindicated the role of ‘lay health workers’ in preventing chronic disease.” Medicare will now join a number of national insurers and employers in funding the massive YMCA network, technology-based Omada Health, and many other providers to deliver the program across the country—with the prospect of achieving truly needle-moving change on this issue.

How do we achieve impact at a scale that meets today's enormous needs? Explore Bridgespan research, insights from leaders, and more on the Transformative Scale Resource Center.

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2. From Grievance to Governance: 8 Features of Transformative Campaigns: Jodeen Olguín-Tayler draws on her experience at MoveOn.org, the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, and Demos to distill lessons about what it takes to lead “Transformative Campaigns.” Her discussion of what “winning” means for social movements—“increased alignment, capacities and infrastructure built in the process, together” beyond achieving individual policy wins—is compelling.

3. The sharing economy — a social movement dying to become an economic one: In this Medium post, Chelsea Rustrum (coauthor of It's a Shareable Life, a guide to the sharing economy) chronicles the rapid evolution of the sharing economy—from peer-to-peer to the gig economy—and discusses where it’s headed. She imagines a more cooperative sharing economy, with an economic model that distributes value across different stakeholders. However it unfolds, it is astonishing to ponder how an entirely new paradigm for various activities has evolved and where it may be going.

4. How to Grow Without Losing What Makes You Great: This Inc. magazine conversation with Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao (coauthors of Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less) draws insights from for-profit examples like Starbucks and Intuit to highlight the delicate balance scaling businesses have to maintain between speed and thoughtfulness; size and simplicity; and repetition and reinvention.

5. Government Goes Agile: Alexandra Christy, former executive director of the Woodcock Foundation, shares a powerful story of efficient government, one of the important pathways to impact at scale. In this Stanford Social Innovation Review piece she describes how the new United States Digital Service (USDS)—an office created in 2014 to improve the federal government’s IT processes—brought the agile methodology to government procurement, a major leverage point: “The VA, following the standard procurement process, got an estimate of $25 million to create [a veterans’ employment] site. Then the VA went to … USDS, which did the project for $175,000.” Unless government makes more shifts of this sort—breaking from the status quo to increasingly seek and reward the strongest performers—many of our efforts to achieve transformative scale will be forever stymied.

Our top five pieces from March and February are available on our blog.

For those interested in learning about platforms, there is a complimentary HBR webinar featuring Marshall Van Alstyne, who was a guest expert at our Transformative Impact Collaborative. Marshall is the coauthor of a new book, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You, about shifting from traditional businesses to platforms. It recently was profiled on SingularityHub.

You can always find our latest work toward achieving impact at transformative scale at the Transformative Scale Resource Center. I also regularly Tweet about articles on this topic: @JeffBradach.

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