DRUMBEAT is the world’s first structured learning program using music, psychology and neurobiology.

Through our relationship with the International Centre for Social Franchising, we have been helping organisations wishing to scale-up their work. One such example is a project with Holyoake, the Australian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Addiction Resolutions. Without going into matters that are the business of Holyoake alone, this article presents some of the insights we have gained through this and other project work and which have relevance to scaling and replication work more broadly.

Holyoake asked us to help their team explore options for developing a model for replicating DRUMBEAT in other countries through a franchise system. DRUMBEAT is the world’s first structured learning program using music, psychology and neurobiology. The acronym stands for Discovering Relationships Using Music, Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes, and Thoughts. Beneficiaries of the program tend to be people seeking to improve their relationships and it has wide application in schools, mental health services, aged care and prisons.

First of all, some definitions. Social replication refers to the process of establishing a successful social-purpose project in a new location. Scaling-up is a program of work that enables social-purpose projects to be adapted to multiple locations. ICSF uses a replication scale to help organisations think through the best scaling strategy for them.

A discussion that often takes place is around the pros and cons of franchising and licensing as competing strategies. In deciding on which of these options to prioritise, there are commonly four factors to consider:

  • Desired degree of control; if an organisation desires close management of the work of implementers of its projects or services, then a franchise agreement is likely to be more suitable than a licence agreement.
  • Level of ambition; although licence agreements allow for targets to be set, the relationship provided by a franchise agreement is more conducive to striving for financial and especially impact targets.
  • Quality assurance; generally a closer and more hands-on approach to quality assurance is expected within a franchise framework than the focus on distance management that tends to come with licensing.
  • Relationship development; as implied in the previous above, a licensing arrangement places less emphasis on regular interaction between originator and implementer than social franchising does.

If social franchising and licensing emerge as two leading options, these four topics provide a starting point for a discussion on the most suitable option for an organisation to use.

Once a particular option for scaling has been chosen, attention usually turns to the design of a system for scaling. Again, a common area of discussion and debate is around the kinds of individuals, enterprises or organisations that might be recruited to become implementers in their locations. It can be useful to think in term of categories or profiles of implementers that represent different characteristics.

For example, a Category 1 Implementer might be a medium to large organisation based in an urban area with access to good infrastructure and specialised staff. It could be private sector or non-profit, such as a major health provider, with a large number of clients using services on a regular basis and a high enough financial turnover to enable investment in new initiatives.

A Category 2 Implementer could be a small- to medium-sized organisation, well-established as a social enterprise serving clients within a well-defined area. It operates a small number of services in high-demand locally and is seeking to innovate through new ideas, for which a reasonable demand has been identified. Needs to attract funding for new work, but has a reputation for quality and results meaning that existing funders might be open to supporting a scaling strategy.

A Category 3 Implementer could be a small community-based or grassroots organisation, possibly located in a rural or remote area with a lower population density than urban settings. It might have strong community networks and support and be working with vulnerable or marginalised groups such as disengaged youth or lone parents. It could have limited organisational resources and infrastructure, few specialised professionals and individual staff often covering more than one organisational function eg management and training.
The value of this approach to designing a network of implementers is that it brings a practical focus to the subject. The purpose of recruiting different categories of franchisee is to achieve the right balance of financial sustainability and impact that is fundamental to a successful process of scaling up.
Strategies for scaling is a fascinating topic as it goes to the heart of how the social and community sector can best maximise its impact for the people it serves. DRUMBEAT is an excellent example of a proven program with great potential.