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Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System by Donella Meadows

Key bits of this article that can help us do PCM

erin mcenery

on 25 November 2012

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Transcript of Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System by Donella Meadows

Key bits of the article to help us do PCM Donella Meadows
Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System Paradigm out of which a System Arises & 'Enlightenment' The MORE influential the leverage point, the MORE the system will RESIST changing it! How do we change paradigms? Final Caution Delays, Negative &
Positive Feedback Loops Complex systems are
COUNTER-intuitive!! Leverage points are NOT intuitive
[... if they are we intuitively push them the WRONG way!] Because leverage points are
counter-intuitive... When we do work them out... no one will believe us!
[advocacy required!] Information 6. Information
Delivering information to a place where it wasn't going before causing people to behave differently e.g.
& public reporting of emissions, etc... Power of Self-Organisation
& System Goals Rules of a System 5. Power over rules is REAL power This article offers... An invitation to think MORE broadly about the MANY ways there might be to get systems to change
[...from lowest influence to highest] Parameters, Buffers & Structures 12. Parameters 'Points of power...' People REALLY care about parameters BUT there's not a lot of leverage in them e.g. The President of the United States makes some difference but NOT heaps given every President is plugged into the same political system
> Parameters BECOME leverage points when they kick off a more influential leverage point! 11. Buffers Stocks that are BIG relative to their flows are more stable than small ones; you can stabilise a system by increasing buffers 10. Structure/Flows/Nodes A leverage point with a BIG effect but where they require PHYSICAL BUILDING these are the slowest & most expensive to move e.g. getting new elements into Council capital planning
> The leverage point is actually proper design in the first place! 9. Delays How long it takes to do something or for something to happen
Not easily changeable (therefore not great leverage) 8. Strengthening Negative Feedback Controls Improves a system's SELF-CORRECTING abilities
> consider the strength of the negative feedback loops relative to the impacts they are trying to correct 7. Driving Positive Feedback Loops SELF-REINFORCING e.g. 'success to the successful'
Reducing the gain around a positive loop (slowing the growth) is usually a more powerful leverage point than strengthening negative loops e.g. anti-poverty programs are weak negative loops trying to counter STRONG positive ones better approach would be progressive income tax & universal high-quality education
> Applying the 'equity lens' Adding or restoring information is MUCH easier & cheaper than rebuilding infrastructure
Missing feedback is one of the most common causes of system malfunction
Popular with the masses, unpopular with the powers that be & very effective if you can make it happen
> KEY leverage point for PCM What are the rules?
Who has power over them?
Do they allow information flow (e.g. free press) and feedback (e.g. democratic elections)?
Do they strengthen environmental & social safeguards (e.g. equity)
> what can we do to influence the rules in our system to support wellbeing? 4. Self-organisation & System Resilience
> The Prevention System needs to be resilient & flexible: experimenting, innovating, applying feedback & evolution 3. Goals of the System
> Our opportunity is to:
+ Equity
+ Wellbeing
+ Healthy weight... > Keep pointing at the anomalies & failures in the old paradigm
> Speak loudly with assurance from the new one
> Insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility & power
> Work with active change agents & with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded 2 & 1... Society's deepest set of beliefs about how the world works Leverage points are not easily accessible. POWER has LESS to do with PUSHING leverage points than it does with STRATEGICALLY, PROFOUNDLY, MADLY LETTING GO! Check out Annabel Crabb's article from The Drum: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-08/crabb-us-election/4360796
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