The tech industry often fixates on scale as a metric of success, but why is it assumed that infinite growth and scalability is a good thing? In the private sector, the focus scale is seen in trends like “growth hacking” or cultivating a “10x mindset”. Within the social enterprise and nonprofit sector, it can be seen in the way grants are tied to the quantity of the impact, driving outcomes towards impacting millions, rather than the quality of those interactions. This trend highlights the dysfunctional relationship that exists between scalability and growth/success, which is a mindset that has been ingrained for centuries.
In this talk, I will outline key trends from my observations of working in the tech industry. I will discuss the desire of unmitigated scaling, specifically around scaling prototypes without safeguards or risk mitigations in place. I will propose approaches for designers and technologists to address this short-term mentality, and highlight ways to reframe our research questions to consider what is within our planetary boundaries.