Bigger Impact Systems Thinking

Donella Meadows was a great systems thinker. Her idea of leverage points is that intervening higher level aspects of a system (goals) has a much bigger impact than does looking at the more detail (feedback loops).

Data Flow Diagrams prod one through goal intervention. Any other technique do such?

I remember reading about this at some point but I did not pursue the topic far enough to know if Meadows ever managed to successfully apply the techniques. I’m curious to know if there are good case studies showing that high level interventions are better than low level ones. Intuitively it seems to make sense but at some point high level interventions must be implemented as work that needs to get done by someone.


We may discover high level issues (like the need for a high level feedback loop). We implement a solution for such at the detail level. All solutions require detailed implementation.

We may also discover a low level issue. We implement at the detail level here also.

Fixing high level issues has more impact because the scope of the issue is broader.