Future Generations


Double Your Impact in 1/2 the Time at 1/5 the Cost


Two approaches to social change are contrasted in the above statement-and this is what the SEED-SCALE method achieves that students at Future Generations University learn. The SEED-SCALE method is a consolidation of twenty-five years of disciplined study and documentation by the university of global best practices in applied community change—the method brings together what has been proven to work.

In a word, SEED-SCALE generates empowerment; the power of people drives the process (rather than money). SEED-SCALE is a universal process, and it creates locally-specific solutions. These solutions begin with successes every community has, they grow improving quality of life using resources communities already have. Then as communities improve, the process brings improvements to the communities.

SEED-SCALE differs from the conventional developmental approach that “delivers” life improvements. In the traditional approach now, services are provided by professionals (typically needing experts from the outside, paid for by the outside). The SEED-SCALE approach “grows capacity” inside communities, training local persons to use more effectively resources they already have (empowering and educating people).

This alternative approach finds “seeds” in the community that are working, and it grows these by getting people inside the community to more effectively work in partnerships inside and with resources outside. Evidence-based monitoring is used to guide this growth. The improved result ratios have held generally constant across the quarter century the SEED-SCALE method has been applied.

Doubling impact happens because the community is working together, working with partners, and work is informed by evidence. All these make the change process twice as efficient (even though the process is not getting the stimulus of outside money).

Work time is halved because change starts immediately. Thus, promptly started, also it is starting where things are working. Small positive starts, fitted to the community, with time to work in as the start is underway … the results time frame is halved.

Cost tumbles for many reasons. First, growth is happening from successes, not fixing failures and needs. Second, growth is mounting first from local resources, not outside money with all its administrative costs. Third, local people know how to bring efficiencies to local tasks (having this incentive because the resources are theirs). Fourth, the major resource being used is local human energies, something everyone has already, now being used more efficiently.

Created by SEED-SCALE is a Learning Organization. Social change is being driven forward by people learning improved behaviors. Learning can reach all (equity). Once extended, it cannot be taken away (sustainability). Because impact growth by human energies being more effectively and efficiently applied, and the energy resource is one that all people already possess and in approximately equal measure … what results is cooperation (not competition).

SEED-SCALE accelerates local cooperation. The traditional method advances change by scared resources that foster competition among peoples. SEED-SCALE advances whole units of peoples, communities. It is a method that can be used almost any place.

The two approaches are not either/or—both become more effective when done in together.

  • Future Generations has led research and evolved demonstrations in many countries that advance this empowerment/educate approach. The evidence from these trials has brought forward the “double-impact, in half-time, for one-fifth-cost” proportions.
  • Using resources already there, staffed and paid-for, gives the four-fifths cost efficiencies. To use these, the one-fifth cost being spent concentrates in delivering learning (rather than the more challenging delivery of material).
  • Using what is already there also speeds up service extension—time is not needed to develop effective transport/staffing solutions—and becomes the dynamic that drives the “half-the-time” aspect.
  • Decisions becoming localized achieves the “double the impact” aspect. This happens through utilizing local as well as larger knowledge global knowledge. Thus, a diversity of resources is gathered—in this most importantly is the creativity resource. Moreover, that creativity is gathered in diversity of problem-solving from community, expert, and outside persons, allowing the financial and materiel resources to be optimized at each moment and sustained across time.

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Examples and evidence throughout this website explain the process which is termed SEED-SCALE. Additional explanation is on our parallel website: www.seed-scale.org. Two scholarly books written by the Future Generations faculty provide further explanation and evidence.


Just & Lasting Change

When Communities Own their Futures, 2nd Edition (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016)


Empowerment on an Unstable Planet

From Seeds of Human Energy to a Scale of Global Change (Oxford University Press, 2012)