Intervention points in systems

Places to Intervene in a System (in increasing order of effectiveness)1

  1. Numbers: Constants and parameters such as subsidies, taxes, and standards
  2. Buffers: The sizes of stabilizing stocks relative to their flows
  3. Stock-and-Flow Structures: Physical systems and their nodes of intersection
  4. Delays: The lengths of time relative to the rates of system changes
  5. Balancing Feedback Loops: The strength of the feedbacks relative to the impacts they are trying to correct
  6. Reinforcing Feedback Loops: The strength of the gain of driving loops
  7. Information Flows: The structure of who does and does not have access to information
  8. Rules: Incentives, punishments, constraints 4. Self-Organization: The power to add, change, or evolve system structure
  9. Goals: The purpose of the system
  10. Paradigms: The mind-set out of which the system—its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters—arises
  11. Transcending Paradigms


Meadows, D. H. Thinking in Systems: A Primer. (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008).

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