The Twelve Leverage Points to Intervene in a System

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on systems’ thinking recently, following a phenomenal talk by Jabe Bloom that I randomly stumbled upon. Jabe’s talk led me to reading Ackoff’s “Re-creating the Corporation” which turned out to be a great read. I’m still digesting both Jabe’s talk and Ackoff’s book and hope to blog about both in the near future.

Meanwhile, I also finished reading Donella Meadows’ “Thinking in Systems – A Primer”. Overall, I was a little underwhelmed with the book. It helped me further my understanding of the field but not by as much as I thought it would. But the one part of the book that I found to be particularly useful and insightful is succinctly summarized in this Wikipedia entry:

The Twelve Leverage Points to Intervene in a System

As the name suggests,  Meadows identified 12 leverage points to intervene in a system in order to change its behavior. The short-hand version of them, in order of increasing effectiveness is listed below:

  1. Numbers
  2. Buffers
  3. Stock-and-Flow Structures
  4. Delays
  5. Balancing Feedback Loops
  6. Reinforcing Feedback Loops
  7. Information Flows
  8. Rules
  9. Self Organization
  10. Goals
  11. Paradigms
  12. Transcending Paradigms

It’s an incredibly powerful cheat-sheet for driving behavior change and I look forward to using it in my future endeavors in that space.

The Twelve Leverage Points to Intervene in a System