Turning the Pyramid on its Head

Successful efforts in the public sector often take a different approach from the traditional pyramid of plan and action. Instead of the large-scale approach, successful efforts embrace the concept of creating and starting multiple prototypes or pilots on a smaller scale that begin with minimal planning and instead look to implementation and testing as a means for seeing what works.

They essentially shrink the pyramid and turn it upside down. They start by doing something, trying different things, and then for those that succeed, step back and start to build more planning and analysis into the prototype that's providing the most benefit. The combination of trying more and different things gives an organization a better shot at finding and implementing something that works.

Rapid prototyping activities in and of themselves are also naturally more collaborative - they generate touch points with the people an effort is trying to benefit and enables it to identify and react to the feedback as well as new information and changes in the environment.

The other benefit of course is that smaller pyramids are more consumable by the organization and simply easier to implement in traditionally rigid environments. So an organization is going to have inherently more success taking any idea and breaking it down into smaller changes.

 Engaging in multiple smaller efforts enables more innovation and increases the likelihood of finding the right solution that sticks in the organization.

Engaging in multiple smaller efforts enables more innovation and increases the likelihood of finding the right solution that sticks in the organization.

By definition, the large pyramid project is akin to putting all the organization's eggs into one basket. By creating several smaller pyramids with smaller-scale activities, an organization is able to try more things and see what works before making more sizable investments.