The term ‘pilot’ can be overused and misused in the development field. It is often wrongly employed to refer to any small or early stage activities or projects — regardless of whether they have the capacity, potential or intention of operating at a larger scale.
The lack of a clear, formal definition is problematic for many seasoned program managers, whose interpretation of the word is tied to scalability and eventual large-scale implementation. A pilot should always anticipate what it would look like if it were being delivered at scale, says Larry Cooley, president emeritus of Management Systems International. And planning for scale influences everything — from strategy and project design to the way you structure incentives and engage third parties.