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, yet this is precisely what the SEED-SCALE method offers to students of Future Generations University. 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, meaning 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 that creates locally-specific solutions that 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 requiring experts from the outside, paid for by the outside). The SEED-SCALE approach “grows capacity” inside communities, training local persons to more effectively use resources they already have through empowering and educating its people.

This alternative approach finds “seeds” in the community that are working and grows them 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, and 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 and working with partners. That work is in turn 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. It is also starting where things are working already. With 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 from fixing failures and needs. Second, growth is mounting from local resources, not outside money with all its administrative costs. Third, local people know how to bring efficiencies to local tasks (because the resources are theirs and they know best how to use them). Fourth, the major resource being used is local human energies; something everyone has already, now being used more efficiently.

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 is being more effectively and efficiently applied, and the energy resource is one that all people already possess in approximately equal measure, what results is cooperation (not competition).

Whereas the traditional method advances change by scarce resources that foster competition among peoples, SEED-SCALE advances whole units of peoples and communities through the acceleration of local cooperation. This makes it a method that can be used almost any place.

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

  • Future Generations has led research and evolved demonstrations in many countries that advance this empower/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 knowledge, as well as larger global knowledge. Thus, a diversity of resources is gathered— most important among these is the creativity resource. Moreover, that creativity is gathered into diverse 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)