Creating value and challenging the way things are currently done is something I (along with my great teams) continually try to achieve, with the intention of producing a better solution as an end result. I have also consciously noted HOW I have been going about this, and WHY I have been doing it in such a way: To make my efforts as effective as possible. And after reading an article published by Donella H Medows, it all made complete sense. I aim for the most effective and powerful leverage points, and push hard against them! The twelve leverage points to intervene in a system were proposed by Donella Meadows, a scientist and system analyst focused on environmental limits to economic growth. 12
key leverage points are identified as ways to intervene in a system, listed in order of magnitude of effect. The 12 levrage points can be found here. Below are some key insights taken from her article, I have focused on the 4 most crucial leverage points to intervene in a system, with #1 being the most important. 4) The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure Self-organization – Nature does this through evolution, humans do this through technical advancements or social revolution. The ability to self-organize is the strongest form of system resilience. A system that can evolve can survive almost any change by adapting. A key way to remain adaptive is to be well aware that we are forever operating in a dynamic non-equilibrium, where things are forever changing. My advice would be to learn to be comfortable with being outside of your comfort zone. As soon as you fail to do this, you become susceptible to sticking within a set paradigm and this may hinder your ability to readily and effectively adapt to the next disruption. *Self-organization is essentially changing any of the leverage points lower on this list (i.e. 5-12). 3) The Goals of the system If the goal is to bring more and more of the world under the control of one central planning system (the empire of Genghis Khan, the world of Islam, the People’s Republic of China, Wal-Mart, Disney), then everything further down the list, even self-organizing behavior, will be pressured or weakened to conform to that goal. This is where zooming out and looking at it from a macro level is useful. Try and figure out, what are the parameters to your system, and then WHO sets these parameters? If I look at other high-impact change-maker’s here in South Africa, they are aware of this leverage point, and really push hard against it. A prime example is Bernelle Verster and her efforts in the water industry. 2) The mindset or paradigm out of which the system arises The shared idea in the minds of society, the great unstated assumptions–unstated because unnecessary to state; everyone knows them–constitute that society’s deepest set of beliefs about how the world works. There is a difference between nouns and verbs. People who are paid less are worth less. Growth is good. Nature is a stock of resources to be converted to human purposes. Evolution stopped with the emergence of Homo sapiens . One can “own” land. Those are just a few of the paradigmatic assumptions of our culture, all of which utterly dumbfound people of other cultures. This is where new generations with new values can be extremely effective. They are exposed to new technology affecting their social dynamics the most and can change these mindsets from the ground up. 1) The power to transcend paradigms The highest leverage of all is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms, to realize that NO paradigm is “true,” that even the one that sweetly shapes one’s comfortable worldview is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe. If no paradigm is right, you can choose one that will help achieve your purpose. The power of transcending paradigms is immense, if you are a high-impact individual and create your own paradigm within which you operate and filter life, you can attract others to adopt your paradigm through inspiration and action. You can create SIGNIFICANT change from this!