white paper:

An Argument for Grounded Change

7 Missing Links between Social Policy, Social Services, and Outcomes:

We call our approach Grounded Change. This is the discussion paper we wrote in 2015 describing how we use behaviour change theory to co-design new interventions.


pdf ⋅ 270 KB

Grounded Change paper

After 10 years working in 6 different countries with families in crisis, isolated older adults and troubled teenagers, we keep surfacing a need for the same 7+ solution types. Like networks to find and match positive deviants with peers. Like roles which catalyze taster experiences and build bridging relationships.

We think it is time to stop re-inventing the idea of the wheel. Instead, it is time to re-invent when and how we use the wheel. You see, there are 6 simple machines: the wheel, lever, inclined plane, pulley, wedge, and screw. That are the building blocks of more complex machines. Similarly, we think there are 7+ building blocks – or change mechanisms – which are the missing links between social policies, social services, and outcomes for marginalized people.

So we’re shifting our focus. From the discovery and ideation process. To implementation. We think social innovation & design places emphasis on the wrong things. We couldn’t agree more with Professor David Good, who says:

Although reforms are usually designed by a few people, invariably they are implemented by many. It is through the implementation, and not the design, that the issues, contradictions, and dilemmas rise to the surface and become grounded in the reality of administration and politics. And it is often the implementers, not the designers, who are called upon to reconcile them.

So have a read of what we want to implement, and how. Then tell us what you think.


dr. Sarah Schulman

Sarah is a Founder of InWithForward, and its Social Impact Lead. As a sociologist, Sarah …

Read more about dr. Sarah Schulman