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Starting An Organization From Scratch #10 Design A Pilot Project

Now that everything is in place, it’s time to test the strategy and be sure that it works. A pilot project is small scale preliminary activities conducted to evaluate feasibility, time, cost, impact and scalability so as to improve upon the project design prior to performance of a full scale project. A pilot often establishes the tone of how broader initiatives will be received.
A successful pilot can easily take a life of it’s own as others hear about the outcomes and actively sign up to take part in the program. On the other hand, failures can often be turned into learning outcomes that can be used a red flags for future projects. While you can never expect all pilots to be successful, you can maximize chances of success by selecting the most viable activities and the most efficient team to ensure easy identification of impact.

One of the single most important success factors in piloting is the people involved and the single most important attribute is passion. Given that a pilot requires a high level of adaptation, flexibility, spontaneity and team work; the pilot team should be selected after serious considerations. Although you have a limited budget, it is essential to identify people who share a common passion to help with the implementation of the pilot project.
In designing a pilot project, a balance need to be struck between having clarity on the scope of the pilot and allowing experimentation that may uncover even more valuable interventions. If variations on the expected outcome or even entirely different approaches seem to offer potential impact, these should be adopted.
Pilots are established with the primary intention of demonstrating impact so that they can be scaled up. However even if the pilot is very successful, it should not necessarily be implemented in the Sam way for future roll outs. And if it is not successful, there may be even more useful lessons on how to improve or refine subsequent initiatives. As such, there need to be specific systems to capture lessons during and at the conclusion of the pilot.
Success needs to be assessed both in terms of the initial objectives and or any other impact that has been created in the process of the project. Decisions must be made on whether to continue, expand, discontinue or change the pilot.

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