In economics, there is a term, “economies of scale.”
Its the idea that as you increase factors of production (factories, capital, labor, technology, etc), output increases at a rate that outstrips those factor increases, and as a result the cost to produce a service per unit drastically diminishes.
Its a very powerful concept. The more produced, the cheaper the cost. At companies like Google, “at scale” is the acid test for new products. Can it be made at scale? Can we meet market growth requirements with this product in a way that becomes cheaper to us with time and larger investment so we can make a lot of it? If not, scrap it. Commercialization is best accomplished at scale.
If we think about it, scale is a dimension of leadership we should look for in ourselves as we continue to develop our leadership capabilities. Its funny how easy it is to tell one person what to do, or three or ten? But can you tell 20 people what to do or a 100? Can you scale up without losing impact or thinning your brand message or position statement. And more important can you do this whilst the audience will follow.
There are many of us that are good with one to one connections, building rapport and intimacy. There are many of us that are good on stage in front of hundreds. But few of us are good at both and dancing across the spectrum in between. For example, I did a woods retreat with classmates, where throughout the day we did team building exercises. In the morning, there was a team building exercise that required 3 people, in the afternoon, 10 and in the evening up to 50. I tend to love making connections within smaller environments. At each exercise point in the day, my ability to communicate with credibility was strained as the numbers grew. It was shocking how my articulation had to change to capture the “will” of a larger audience.
Think about where your scale ends in both directions, with large and small groups and practice your articulate of a vision. With smaller groups, it might be necessary to demonstrate openness and authenticity. With larger groups, it might be necessary to be more of a figure head that is sartorial, and charismatic. Whatever you choose, the basic recipe has to work in both environments, hence that’s what gives it scale.