Places To Intervene In A System

Essay by Donella Meadows.

cf Complex System?

We know from bitter experience that when we do discover the system's Leverage points, hardly anybody will believe us. cf Wicked

Here, in the light of a cooler dawn, is a revised list: (in increasing order of effectiveness)

  • 12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards).
  • 11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows.
  • 10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures).
  • 9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change.
  • 8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.
  • 7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops.
  • 6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information).
  • 5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints). (game-rule)
  • 4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.
  • 3. The goals of the system.
  • 2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises. (culture)
  • 1. The power to transcend paradigms.

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