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Leverage Points

In Places to Intervene in a System, systems thinker Donella Meadows lists the following 9 leverage points for keeping a system “on the rails” and in continuous pursuit of its goals.

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.

The items are listed in increasing order of difficulty. Of particular interest is number 1, the “mindset” of the system controller(s). In so-called “modern” corpricracies, the patriarchical mindset of “we’re in charge and we know what’s best, so STFU and do what you’re told“, has ruled the day since the Henry Ford era. In that day, since the typical workforce was under-educated and managers actually knew how to perform and teach the work that kept a company viable, patriarchy worked well. These days, since the situation has changed (and continues to change) immensely, patriarchy can drive a company into the ground.

When managers don’t have a clue how to do the work, they ignore problems, issues, and ideas floated up from the bottom by the DICforce. This crucial feedback loop for sustained viability gets severed and the org suffers greatly for it. BMs collectively, and often unconsciously, behave this way in order not to look stupid and preserve their aura of infallible superiority. Ideas that can save six or seven figures in costs and product enhancements that may increase competitiveness go un-investigated or are killed via “it’s not in the budget”.

Maybe surprisingly to some, the vast majority of the DICforce actually buys into the patriarchical mindset because that’s the way it’s been for eons. DICs that initially don’t buy into patriarchy fall in line as soon as they are ignored or are slapped down a couple of times. Those that continue to buck the patriarchy after being “warned” are shackled or expelled for “insubordination” – another great term that reinforces the patriarchical mindset.

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