Social Intervention Frame

Social Intervention Frame

How does it work?

The Social Intervention Frame is a compass aiming to guide every social innovator intervention, its advantages and its limitations.

Top-down, bottom-up, side to side, inside out.

4 types of social change. 

The Social Intervention Frame is a compass aiming to guide every social innovator intervention, its advantages and its limitations.

Top-down, bottom-up, side to side, inside out. 4 types of social change. 

There is not the only or the best way to solve a social challenge, we need all the interventions. 


It is mainly referred to as a political change for challenges relating to social and economic structure.

Key Features: 

  • 1. Impact at scale.
  • 2. Usually involuntary.
  • 3. Often relies on policy influence followed by regulatory change.

Regulation gets a hard time, but it is sometimes necessary to create change at scale.

Key Actors:

  • 1. Governments
  • 2. International Organisations
  • 3. Intergovernmental Organisations
  • 4. Public-Private Partnerships
  • 5. Lobbyists

The major changes needed to break down some of the barriers that currently constrain the power to create might include: 

  1. 1. Challenging the legal status of corporations.
  2. 2. Advocating for changes in legislation.
  3. 3. Introducing a basic income.
  4. 4. Campaigning on land reform.
  5. 5. Advocating for more funding in research & development.
  6. 6. Investing in public health.
  7. 7. Free & Quality education.
  8. 8. Penalising animal abuse or torture. 



Social change for challenges relating to specific issues of a civil or environmental nature.

Key Features: 

  • 1. Specific and contextual.
  • 2. Usually voluntary but often need­ driven and stemming from individuals or small groups.
  • 3. Often tied to particular places or domains.

Key Actors:

  • 1. Activists
  • 2. Community Organisations
  • 3. NGOs
  • 4. Social Entrepreneurs

Top-down changes don’t prevent bottom-up changes: if anything their purpose should be to facilitate and encourage them. 

Local context is not a noise obscuring an underlying platonic political form, but the very lifeblood of what matters to most people. 

For some people, recycling is about poor product design or supply chain flaws, but for other people, it is about composting or having trash containers on the street.  

  • 1. Animal shelters.
  • 2. Foodbanks.
  • 3. Community sports.

We need to use all available tools; the vitality of personal agency, the systemic impact of smart regulation, the elegance of socio-­technical innovation and the humanity to keep ourselves present, open, aware, connected, and vulnerable.


The change stems from socio-technical disruption, characterised by systemic innovation.

Key Features: 

  • 1. Change begins from losing associations of values and interests across domains.
  • 2. Usually disruptive or entrepreneurial in spirit.
  • 3. Grounded in virtual networks.
  • 4. Pervasive and international due to global connectivity

Key Actors:

  • 1. Social Entrepreneurs
  • 2. Startups
  • 3. Impact-Investors
  • 4. Tech-Driven Companies

With the boom in the accessibility to technology, people can get things done by themselves or with other like-minded individuals without intermediaries, in ways that were no imaginable.   

The very idea of top and bottom feels partial in this context. In addition to the hierarchies of vertical power (top-down, bottom-up) there are heterarchies of lateral power; networks of varying size, shape and influence that often lie dormant but can suddenly be hugely influential in response to particular events, and cut across regions and countries:

  • 1. Blockchain
  • 2. Internet of Things
  • 3. Artificial Intelligence
  • 4. Virtual Reality

Such shifts have altered the very idea of social change as necessarily place-based or even country-based.

This type of horizontal influence power, fueled by technological disruption, is found in the power to interrupt a process of social change when human factors become its very limitations.


Change stems from contemplative practices, seeking transformative changes to our ends as well as our means.

Key Features:

  • 1. The psychological, spiritual and cultural underpinnings of all the other forms of social change.
  • 2. Often contemplative or reflective in spirit.
  • 3. Targeted mostly at major hidden assumptions.
  • 4. Immune to change and adaptive to challenges.

Key Actors:

  • 1. Spiritual Leaders
  • 2. Mindfulness & Wellbeing coaches

The inner power to create.

The relatively neglected fourth form of social change is about integration and the connection between the work we do on ourselves and the work we do out in the world.

  • 1. To grow in confidence and individual agency.
  • 2. To believe that we can turn our ideas into reality in a meaningful and not merely tokenistic way.
  • 3. To work hard on the intersection of what we think, say and do.
  • 4. To have a robust idea of what to aim for in life, for ourselves and society as a whole.
  • 5. To help each other building a sense of power and purpose, and using that power to create the conditions that will allow us all to live fulfilling lives. 

Only from that kind of enriched foundation, which we often need to work on ourselves to attain, we can act with conviction in the world.

The inertia within established forms of economic and political power is so strong, that we have to keep reminding ourselves what matters to us to steer ourselves away from financial instability, social recession, and ecological collapse. 



Step 1.

Give your team 15 mins to think of each intervention individually.

Ask them to select their most effective intervention for their projects.


Step 2.

Use sticky notes to collect the most relevant ideas and paste them over the poster. 


Step 3. 

Present what could be the best intervention to address the social challenge you have identified.  


Discuss with the team the pros vs cons; Scope vs limitations.



Problem: Garbage in the streets of the centre of my city.


Intervention Top-Bottom: Infractions to those who litter and installation of surveillance cameras. 

Actor: Government.


Intervention Bottom-Top: Purchase of recycled garbage, encouraging collection. Campaigns and civic actions for responsible garbage disposal. 

Actor: Social Enterprise and NGO.


Intervention Side by Side: According to circular economy principles, 80% of waste on land relies upon poor product design. The problem could be solved with a smart product redesign. 

Actor: Technology Company.


Intervention Inside-Out: Appeal to human conscience and our connection with our city and nature. 

Actor: Spiritual or Religious Leader.


Top-bottom: It is commonly believed that the garbage problem on the streets is addressed with higher infractions or taxes,

Bottom-top: however, there are clear examples that can be addressed from a social entrepreneurship perspective, by rewarding users monetarily for every segmented disposal of garbage. Or from an NGO perspective, with constant campaigns and civic actions for responsible waste disposal.

Side-by-side: Or maybe from a technological perspective. According to the principles of the circular economy, 80% of waste relies on poor product design, something that can be solved with new technology or product design research.

Inside-out: Or maybe it is enough to appeal to human conscience and our connection with nature, in order to influence a new collective value aligned with caring for the environment.




Choosing the best intervention is not a question of talent, it is a question of context, type of social contract, and available capacities to address it. You best intervention is the one where you can significantly influence. 

 Over the years there have been discussions between all four interventions, the inside-out interventionists who work on individual behaviour / spiritual change and the top-bottom struggling for structural transformation.

 Both have been said to be necessary. The fact is, we often find ourselves in arguments over what is the best approach. We have found that part of this fracture is due to an inability to understand the nested nature of systems. 

 Problems and changes occur on multiple levels because this is the nature of life. You can influence one, but the true power of change lies in the harmony of all.

 Understanding the problem means to be aware that what happens on one level impacts on the other levels and you cannot ignore this distinctive reality of our nature. Being aware of this reality is understanding the WHOLENESS or seeing things more interconnected in order to choose your signification contribution possible. 




  1. 1. Public policy or changes in legislation.
  2. 2.Distribution of income and basic income.
  3. 3. Regulation of market speculation, monopolies and practices against health.
  4. 4. Free and quality education.
  5. 5. Penalties and classification of crimes.
  6. 6. Institutional protection of the environment and animals.



  1. 1. Coercive
  2. 2. Efficient and Durable
  3. 3. Unilateral or Voted
  4. 4. Powerful



  1. 1. Complex
  2. 2. Bureaucratic and Slow
  3. 3. Imposition
  4. 4. Conflict of interests
  5. 5. Complex execution



  1. Examples:
  2. 1. Animal shelters.
  3. 2. Foodbank.
  4. 3. Community sports.
  5. 4. Culture of peace.
  6. 5. Human rights


  1. Pros:
  2. 1. Local context
  3. 2. Self-organisation
  4. 3. Volunteer and Humanist
  5. 4. They keep their actors motivated, empowered, present, open, aware, connected, vulnerable and accountable. 



  1. 1. Limited in scope
  2. 2. Generally Anti-system or anti-government
  3. 3. Poor financing
  4. 4. Limited capabilities




Historical examples: Vaccines, Solar Energy, Internet, Smartphones, etc.

Todays examples:

  1. 1. Blockchain
  2. 2. Internet of Things
  3. 3. Artificial Intelligence
  4. 4. Virtual Reality



  1. 1. Effective and efficient
  2. 2. Universal & borderless
  3. 3. Exponential growth



  1. 1. Unequal and Elitist
  2. 2. Drastic and Unpredictable





  1. 1. Gurus
  2. 2. Monks or Pastors
  3. 3.  Personal trainers
  4. 4. Influencers or Public Figures



  1. 1. Gurus
  2. 2. Monks or Pastors
  3. 3. Personal trainers
  4. 4. Influencers or Public Figures



  1. 1. Trust and individual agency
  2. 2. Simple and meaningful ideas
  3. 3. Congruence of thought and action
  4. 4. Inclusive and Universal



  1. 1. Sometimes unrealistic
  2. 2. Dependent on personal will
  3. 3. Volatile and Unpredictable
  4. 4. Complex planning and narrative


This form of intervention works at the individual level, to achieve social change, using conviction, while protecting us from inertia within established forms of power that sometimes seem impossible to challenge.



1. Leadership Self-Assessment. How can assess my leadership skills and capabilities?

2. Finding your purpose (Ikigai + Golden Circle). How can I find and link my purpose with the purpose of my project?

3. Social Innovation Matrix. How can explore problems and possible solutions? 

4. Humanity Development Goals. How can we work with development more holistically?

5. Social Intervention Frame. What is the best intervention to solve a problem?

6. Social Contract. How can design and model a social innovation project?

7. The Social Innovation Canvas. How can design and model a social innovation project?

8. Impact Investor Matrix. How do the investors measure impact on projects?

9. Social Economy. How can I finance my  project beyond traditional financing models?

10. Types of Funding. How can I find the best types of funding for my project?

11. Activist Journey. How can I build a movement to solve a social problem?

12. The Social Leader Storytelling. How can I build a powerful and meaningful message for my project?

13. Kite Customer Relationship Management CRM. How can I sell and raise funds for my project?

14. Team Values. How can I build trust among my stakeholder?

15. Recruitment Venn. How can I attract, keep and communicate with the best team for my project?

16. Productivity Board. How can I work more efficiently if I don´t have a clear work process?

17. OKRs. How can I work more efficiently if I already have work process?

18. Decision-Making. How can I discuss and make better decisions with my team

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Gabriel Ekman - Sweden


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The experience has been very enlightening and inspirational, recommended for those who are willing to challenge the status quo

Sebastian Baayel - Ghana
African Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre


Thanks for all the tools, but above all for the remarkable change-makers who I can call now my friends

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