Saturday, February 9, 2013

Donella Meadows And Leverage Points

Donella Meadows begins her famous essay, Places to Intervene in a System, by defining leverage points as "places within a complex system (a corporation, and economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything."

She quotes her teacher, Jay Forrester, as saying that people intuitively know what the leverage points are, and consistently push them in the wrong direction. The classic example of this is economic growth, with people always wanting to remedy the problems cause by growth with more growth.

The nine leverage points she discusses in the essay came out of a meeting about NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO at which she impulsively, and out of frustration, listed them on the easel on the dais.

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