Seed-Scale: A Process for Lasting Change
By Ashley Thorfinnson
Answering Bucky's call for a Design Science revolution that will make the world work for all, the Seed-Scale process targets the bottom 20% of populations that conventional development approaches have typically left behind. The Seed-Scale process was developed by Future Generations through research done for UNICEF which documented cases of community-based large-scale change throughout the last century. Drawing on evidence and creating guidelines from successful cases, the Seed-Scale process uses a comprehensive approach which centers around communities, while involving external change agents and governments, to create change from the bottom up. As their Challenge entry summary states, they recognize that there are "no universal solutions for cultural, economic and ecological sustainability, but there is a universal process to identify local solutions."
SEED-SCALE Process for Community Change
Four principles underlie the Seed-Scale process. When activities embody these principles, momentum for change grows and solutions evolve to fit local circumstances. The four principles are:
1. Build from Success: Strengthen what is working
2. Create Three-way Partnerships: Between community, government, and outside change agents
3. Make decisions based on evidence, not opinions
4. Seek behavior change as the primary outcome.
Using these principles, communities determine their own priorities and focus on practical solutions through the implementation of workplans. These workplans are implemented with the guidance of seven tasks.
1. Create or recreate a Local Coordinating Committee
2. Identify past successes to make more effective
3. Visit other communities to learn methods that can be adapted
4. Self-evaluate your community to gather evidence about needs and seek actions that can be achieved
5. Focus on community priorities and create workplans
6. Take action and encourage partners to do their tasks
7. Make needed mid-course corrections
The Seed-Scale process directly addresses Fuller's intention to make the world work for 100% of humanity by allowing each community to define their own need of critical importance. Existing and successful examples of the Seed-Scale process include the creation of large nature preserves in Tibet and China (which have been expanding and thriving for two decades), rapid social change in India, extended health services in Peru, and the rebound of countries from conflict in Afghanistan.
Seed-Scale's results in Afghanistan are a particularly good example of the impacts the process can have. There, the Seed-Scale process spurred self-starting women's groups to act as trimtabs in their own communities. The women's groups, in turn, lowered infant mortality rates by 46% in two and a half years when previous efforts by international organizations (which cost 5-50 times as much) met with half the success. This community-based and often female-centered approach to empowerment is what allows the Seed-Scale process to "do more with less", being regionally specific yet extremely globally applicable and replicable.
The aim for the project now involves the exponential expansion of their already proven Seed-Scale process of iterative changes. The Challenge semi-finalists aim to do this by documenting the impact Seed-Scale has already made and by building stronger global awareness through their interactive, online training site at www.future.org (insert link). In addition, the Future Generations Graduate School (which is currently pursuing international accreditation) teaches the Seed-Scale Process through its Master's Degree in Applied Community Change and Conservation.
Reinforcing the belief that the efforts of one individual can impact incredible change, Seed-Scale states that "It is human energy that is the key currency of change, not money. Everybody has human energy. The poorest person alive has the same energy as Bill Gates. How can they use what they have to move forward to change? The core is to use that what they have and to scale."
Download the one-page introduction: Seed-Scale: An Introduction PDF 188.69 KB
For more information on Seed-scale go to: Future Generations
1. Future Generations Master's Degree builds local capacity in Seed-Scale using a new pedagogy that allows students to be based in their home communities.
2. Through the Seed-Scale approach, Afghan women learn health skills and create action groups, leading to a 46% drop in child mortality.