Transformative Networks Are Multiscalar

How does transformation of our systems happen?

“The critical question is whether an how social networks can help facilitate innovation to bridge the seemingly insurmountable chasms that separate local solutions from broad system transformation.”

– Michele — Lee Monroe and Frances Westley

“Scale the edge, not the core.”

  • Level 1: Build local networks for experimentation
  • Level 2: Build networks for scaling out so that local innovations can spread, inspire, and learn from others
  • Level 3: Build networks for scaling up so infrastructure and policy to support innovations can be developed
Example from Scale-Crossing Brokers and Network Governance of Urban Ecosystem Services: The Case of Stockholm, Henrik Ernstson , et al.

LEVEL 1: Local Innovation Networks to experiment

“Scaling across happens when people create something locally and inspire others who carry the idea home and develop it in their own unique way.”

-Margaret Wheatley, Walk Out Walk On

  1. Development of an effective periphery for spreading ideas
  2. Expansion or spread of local networks for increased impact
  • People in other communities around the world working in the same issue or vision area who can offer new ideas and practices
  • People in other communities who are interested in what the local community is doing
  • People who are connected to other disciplines or sectors and might have new insights or identify ways the two sectors could combine efforts

LEVEL 2: Scaling out networks

“Information can leap from group to group even when those groups seem to have nothing in common, because all they need in common is a single individual who is member of both groups and therefore has a bridging identity.”

-Paul Hartzog

  • Most projects need to be adapted to each specific community to be fully effective.
  • Most projects can still be improved and so shouldn’t be replicated slavishly.
  • Specific projects are still only one piece of a very complex problem or system and without integrating a number of system elements at the same time project success is likely to be limited.
  1. Support the spread of innovations
  2. Develop systems for determining which local efforts are worth scaling
  3. Support learning clusters of organizations working on similar strategies
  4. Support rhizomatic acceleration: research, venues, and leadership for scaling out

1. Scaling out by supporting spread

2. Scaling Out By Developing a System for Identifying Projects for Scaling

3. Scaling Out Through National Learning Clusters

  1. Highly skilled facilitation
  2. Attention to building deep network relationships among the participants
  3. Diverse participants from each participating local network (different types of organizations, individuals of different ages and backgrounds)
  1. Identify 6 to 12 organizations working in your issue area that you would like to learn more about.
  2. Have sets of twosies in your network, select an organization each to call and interview.
  3. Identify the ones that are most innovative. Find out if they would be interested in being part of a learning network.
  4. Identify a source of funds to support coordination of the learning clusters.

4. Scaling out by supporting Rhizomatic Acceleration: Research, venues, and leadership for continued scaling out:

  • We ensure that all Network Weavers learn how to help others become Network Weavers.
  • We make sure that individuals who are part of collaborative projects are made aware of the skills, processes, and platforms that are being used in that project, and are encouraged to use these in other projects of which they are a part.
  • We make sure that network participants have many platforms and venues for sharing what they are doing in ways that others can adapt their innovations.
Ginger Rhizome

LEVEL 3: Scaling Up

  • System analysis for identification of leverage points
  • Network Guardians
  • Clustering into working groups or action groups to focus on leverage points
  • Pooled funds
  • Communication platforms
  • Policy networks

Support for meta-networks

Informal Meta-Networks

Michele-Lee Moore and Frances Westley

Formal meta-networks networks



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June Holley

June Holley


Helping those working towards transformation network, share learning, and create the support system for transformation.