Leveraging for Social Change

Change is equally prevalent in all aspects of life and has a tendency to not remain isolated to any one area, often times moving from one area to another and back again impacting the initial area in a different way (Vago, 2003). The temptation is to approach change with one of two different stances: the first is to bunker down and try to hunker through the storm of change (Sweet, 2009), or try to control change and force it fit into a preconceived reality (Vago, 2003). The reality is that neither option is optimal, rather strategic influence of change can minimize the need to hunker and bunker while also providing some sense of control as the tides of change wash over society.

In order to effectively impact change, it is important to identify the leverage points within the system that is producing change in order to have the greatest impact (Meadows, 1999). Leverage points are points of power where a low amount of effort yields a high amount of return (Meadows, 1999). The challenge is to first identify the leverage point, but then it is almost more important to identify the direction it needs to be pushed (Meadows, n.d.). Once leverage points are identified and the direction the leverage point needs pushed is determined, then resources need to be committed to moving that leverage point in order to gain the most influence over the coming change.

Though change can not be completely controlled, nor can it be entirely predicted, it can be anticipated and influenced. With effort given to identify leverage points, and resources committed to moving leverage points, changes in society can be influenced.


Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage Points: Places to Intervene Within a System. Sustainability Institute.

Meadows, D. (n.d.). Dancing With Systems. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://donellameadows.org/archives/dancing-with-systems/

Sweet, L. (2009). Soultsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture. Zondervan.

Vago, S. (2003). Social change (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.



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