The room in Babson’s Wellesley, Mass., campus is small. But the reach of the professionals in the room is vast.
Accents echo from citizens of Ireland to Brazil to Russia, all engaged and energized around one conversation: growth and economic development. The walls are lined with large sticky notes. On those notes: takeaways from two days of sessions.
Each of the attendees are leaders, global practitioners of Scale Up® programs. For the first time on October 31, 2018, they are all in one room for the Inaugural Scale Up Practitioners Summit: Driving the Scale Up Movement Forward.
What is the Scale Up Movement? At its core, scaling up is about growing companies, regardless of age or sector, and the impact that scaling up can have on economic development of a region. This movement, adapted for the needs of specific regions, is improving economies and promoting growth all over the globe.
The summit was led by Dan Isenberg, the founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Platform and faculty member for Babson Executive Education, and Vini Onyemah professor of marketing at Babson College and Babson Executive Education.
A Global Connection
The event at Babson brought together economic development leaders from 11 different countries all working on scale up initiatives. These leaders talked through challenges, opportunities, and collaborated like never before.
“To be in a room and hear that the same problems we are facing in Ohio are also challenges in Russia, Colombia, Haiti, is so impactful,” said Deborah Hoover, president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation in Ohio. Hoover has been working for almost a two decade, alongside attendees Brittany Bush and Victoria Broer, to build a vibrant startup to scale up ecosystem in northeast Ohio.
Our struggles and triumphs are universal.
Many of the practitioners who attended have been working within the scale up movement for more than 10 years. Sherry Coutu, chair of the Scale Up Institute and Founders4Schools based in the United Kingdom. She attended the Driving Economic Growth program at Babson in 2014. She has advised governments all over the world, and she sees immense value in bringing all of these minds together.
“I would love to host any of these Scale Up programs in the U.K.,” said Coutu. “I want to make this movement even more global.”
The “Aha” Moments
The summit was a mix of workshops on specific topics, such as “Communicating Growth” and “Mentoring and Coaching.” All participants wrote down all their ideas and thoughts on large sticky notes during “Takeaway Postings” following each workshop. The group then looked at the dozens of takeaways and debriefed together.
This is where many of the “aha” moments occurred—illuminating similarities as well as differences between the programs, resulting in opportunities for collaboration.
The Scale Up Game
During the program, Isenberg took the group through the newly created Scale Up Game. The group was split into teams of four, and all teams received a deck of cards. Each card represented a stakeholder in the economic ecosystem that is hoping to scale up. The goal of the game: to see there are many stakeholders, with different goals. This allows participants to develop actions that address all of these different goals by helping more local firms rapidly grow.
The volume in the room erupted during the game. All the teams collaborated across sectors and disciplines around the common goal of encouraging scaling up.
The scale up movement is creating an impact around the world, building economies and fostering growth. This summit brought the key players of that impact all into one room. “It is just amazing to get to meet and hear stories in person,” says Hoover.