Scaling Up

There's this not-so-novel idea that a businesses will often find success by focusing on inputs rather than outputs. The reasoning is that outputs are affected by many more externalities that inputs, and that a strong application of a business's inputs will naturally lead to desired outputs. For example, a salesperson may wish to focus more on the number of meetings they set up rather than their conversion rateThe latter is less deterministic than the former, and finding success in the former will lead to a larger number of conversions anyway..

But business must consider a number of other strategies, including how to scale up. Observing the currentAt the time of this writing COVID-19 pandemic, I have become convinced that effective scaling is a pivotal consideration for all organizations, not just businesses, and will play a tremendous role in the pandemic's impact on human livelihoods. I'll give just three examples (you could find many more!):

  1. Insurance premiums will soar after (and possibly during) this pandemic. Part of this will be because a lot of people will get sick and insurance companies need to maintain short-term profitability. Part of this is that insurance companies, like many nations' healthcare systems, are unprepared to scale for catastrophe.

  2. As the pandemic begins to stabilize, many individuals will need convenient, flexible sources of income. Businesses in the gig economy, like rideshare and delivery apps, will be stressed to intake a tremendous userbase without meticulous foresight.

  3. I planned to immigrate to Switzerland in May, prior to the nation's suspension of work visas. Due to an increased backlog and higher workload, Swiss consulates estimate the processing time of a visa to increase to over a month‚Äč the regular processing time after the suspension is lifted. Could this timeline be improved with a buffer, like delaying the start date of an issued visa?

I anticipate that we will think about scale much more as COVID rages on, and that scaling solutions will resurge as a fact in a post-COVID world. Part of the difficulty with scaling is that it is not cheap, and without an expectation for long-term need, arguments for scalability are dulled. It will be interesting to see how these challenges are solved. My bet is on an economy of platforms and services.

bring it back

Generalizing the idea of "scaling up", one can thinking about going from a specialization to a generalization. Scale in this sense can be very individual -- it's one thing to understand how much salt a scrambled egg requires, it's another to understand the same for an arbitrary dish.

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