Places to Intervene in a System

My partner forwarded me a great article by the late Donella Meadows, titled Places to Intervene in a System. The whole article is recommended but this summary of hers if quite useful as a framework for evaluating and influencing complex systems. (See also John Robb’s idea of the systempunkt for the modern warfare version of this thinking.)

9 Places to Intervene in a System (in increasing order of effectiveness)

9. Numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards).

8. Material stocks and flows.

7. Regulating negative feedback loops.

6. Driving positive feedback loops.

5. Information flows.

4. The rules of the system (incentives, punishment, constraints).

3. The power of self-organization.

2. The goals of the system.

1. The mindset or paradigm out of which the goals, rules, feedback structure arise.

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