“Leverage Factors”

I just started reading The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin this evening.

What I read on page 10 and then page 11 jumped out at me:

Leverage Factors

In this book, I use the phrase leverage factors to refer to relatively small and politically achievable actions – such as minor changes in rules – that can have powerful results. There are many examples of leverage factors: A tiny catalyst can cause a major chemical reaction, for instance. Antitrust laws have a major effect on the evolution of capitalism’s tendency toward creating monopolies. Injecting a tiny amount of vaccine into our blood can trigger our immune system to produce enough antibodies to make us immune to disease. Most harmful momentum trends have leverage factors that could help us avoid much of the harm.


We need to separate in our minds the momentum trends and leverage factors from the overwhelming noise of smaller issues. By identifying them we can think about how to make the future better.

A 5GWer when planning a campaign, should look for leverage factors to maximize effects while minimizing costs (effort, money, resources, security/deception/secrecy activity).

[Cross-posted at Dreaming 5GW]


7 Responses

  1. I’ve come across that phrase in a couple other sources — it sounds fundamentally the same as “Force Multipliers,” right?

  2. It is similar to “force multiplier”…sort of.

    Leverage Factors refers to the target, not to the actor.

    Force-Multipliers are actors/sub-actors.

    Usually, “force multiplier” refers to a particular type of actor/sub-actor being combined with a another actor where the combination is a multiple of the sum of the parts.

    For instance: Strategic Bombing forces targeting Al-Qada in Afghanistan in 2001 were expensive to use, but had little results.

    When 300 or Us Army Special Forces and CIA paramilitaries were put on the ground to work with the air power, the low result of the air campaign were improved by several magnitudes. The cost of the 300 or so was pretty cheap, but they magnified the air power results i na way out sized by the ground costs.

    Leverage Factors refers to the target, not to the actor.

    I also think of Leverage Factors as mostly intangible things. Leverage factors are rules-set and key functions of institutions.

    So, think of leverage factors as key points of institutions, that when slightly changed have outsized results (immediately or over-time).

    Tangible things related to Leverage Factors would be the key parts of infrastructure usually referred to as “Systempunkt”.

  3. Some excellent brainfood here! I need to leave comments more often…thanks again, man.

  4. I have been finding that I fill in the blanks better and round out my thoughts when asked questions about the, so thanks to you to!

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