Assess Leverage

There are a thousand things you could do to improve your health (or the health of the other systems you are working with) right now.

Sometimes there are so many things that need to be done, it can feel overwhelming. Easier to do nothing.

The solution is to assess leverage.

In this post I’ll share a free worksheet to help you do that. Use it whenever you aren’t sure what to do next. So you’ll always know that (to the best of your knowledge at any given time) your energy is being invested for maximum returns.

Assessing leverage will help you pick one thing, the rightest thing, out of a thousand possibilities.

Read more about assessing leverage, particularly for health improvement at the n=1 level, here.

What’s Leverage, Exactly?

“Leverage’ is a bit of a buzz words in business circles.

It originated from systems theorists like Donella Meadows, whose research introduced the concept of using leverage points as a way to change the structure of systems. Meadows’ explained that leverage points can be used to influence systems, so that systems will work with us and help us get more of what we want. And less of what we don’t.

According to Meadows in Thinking in Systems: A Primer (excellent book: I reread it often), “leverage points are points of power”. They are places where a small shift can lead to significant change.

Meadows cautions that leverage points can be counter-intuitive. If we don’t engage in thoughtful analysis, we can easily end up pushing a system in the wrong direction, hoping for particular results but actually contributing to what we don’t want in a given situation. In fact, that happens all the time.

The basic rule: the more complex a system is, the more carefully we need to assess leverage and the more alert and adaptive we need to be when intervening.

Free Worksheet

Anytime you feel confused about what to do next, assessing leverage can help. Here’s a free worksheet to help with that.

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