The Ethics of Scale

When we find something that works, we naturally want to scale it: make it bigger, apply it to different problems in different contexts.

Sometimes that’s a good idea. Doing more pushups (or eating fewer cookies) each day is likely to scale well.

But scale shouldn’t always be the goal. A technique that works in developed-world consulting might not fit a developing-country context. A “best practice” developed in one village might not work in the next valley over.

Helping ourselves and others to do more of what really works might be a good idea. But simply doing more of what we know how to do to other people might not be very helpful at all.