Scriptapedia/Places To Intervene

Places to interveneEdit

Status: Promising Practices

Primary nature of group task: Divergent


Preparation time: 5 minutes

Time required during session: 30 minutes

Follow-up time: 30 minutes


  1. Post-its (enough for 3-5 sheets per participant/group)
  2. One dark pen per participant
  3. Blue “painters” tape for Causal loop diagram (CLD)/stock and flow model) or computer and projector to project CLD/stock and flow model

Inputs: Causal loop diagram or stock and flow model

Outputs: List of possible places to intervene based on feasibility and impact


  • Facilitator experienced in small group facilitation and familiar with tangible and intangible stocks, and Meadow’s (1999) paper on leverage points
  • Co-facilitator/wall-builder able to organize the ideas
  • Recorder to take notes on the ideas being suggested


  1. Facilitator explains that the CLD/model has tangible and intangible variables/stocks/connections. Give concrete examples based on the CLD/ model (e.g. tangible: people; intangible: perception, stress). Considerations of intervention include feasibility and impact: what feedback loops are connected to the variable? How many variables are connected? Give concrete examples based on the CLD/model.  (5mins)
    • example of prompt: “You could choose the place to intervene as [variable 1; e.g. gun ownership]. This may be the least impactful way to intervene because it is only fixing a symptom but may be most feasible. As we can see, [variable 2; e.g. gangs] contribute to [variable 1; e.g. gun ownership] in the CLD/model, and efforts to reduce [variable 1] would only have a temporary effect since the CLD/model suggests that [variable 2] would continue to contribute to [variable 1]. While addressing symptoms may not have the highest impact in a system, it is important to remember that they can still be beneficial."
  2. Ask groups/individuals (split into groups if there are more than 5 people? 3-5 groups ideally) to take 10 minutes to identify as many places that they can that could impact the model.
    • "Based on your understanding of the model, where are the impactful points of intervention? What about feasibility? Are there resources in the model that can make your choice of the place of intervention more feasible?”
    • You can also choose to intervene in an intangible variable. For example, you can develop interventions that aim to change mindset. [Insert example of changing mindset; one such example of changing the mindset from the obesity example could be changing how people view the cause of obesity from “parents just don’t know how to cook” to “parents are too busy trying to make ends meet with their work and don’t have the time to plan meals, shop, and cook.”]"
    • "Specifically, look at the CLD/model and identify places where you might intervene.[Give example; e.g. In the obesity example, we might try to intervene at “calorie intake” ]
    • "There are many different places of intervention in this model, please write down
      1. name of variable/stock that you would like to change
      2. how feasible the variable change is, 1 being least feasible and 10 being most feasible
      3. how impactful you view the variable change is to the topic (Ref mode). 1 being least impactful and 10 being most impactful.
      4. There would be two scores, F and I, over 10 for each score”
  3. show example  on post it(E.g. parenting stress F: 4/10, I: 8/10) .
    • "Since we will be posting and organizing each place to intervene, write only one per post-it, please use the pens."
    • "After 10 minutes, I will ask you to share in a round-robin fashion the results of your place of intervention by going to each group/individual and asking you to share your most important place of intervention.”
  4. Participants are given a 1-minute warning and told to sort their places of intervention from the most important to the least important.
    • "We’re about to finish. Please complete your last place of intervention before we get started again in the large group."
    • “Please sort your place of from the most important to least important to you, it could be the most impactful or most feasible variable/stock or the variable/stock with the highest overall score"
    • "Please stop."
  5. The facilitator then asks individuals/groups to share their places of intervention, one at a time and in a round robin fashion starting with their most important place of intervention. If another individual/group has already identified that place of intervention, then they should select their next most important place of intervention.
    • "As we did in the first exercise, I am going to ask each individual/group to only share one place of intervention at a time because I want to make sure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to share their insights."
  6. The facilitator asks clarifying questions to make sure everyone understands the scores of intervention places.
    • "Can you tell me more about how you rated the variables?"
    • “How do you understand how this a change in this variable impacts the system and topic/ref mode?”
  7. As each group/individual shares the place to intervene, the post it would be placed on the model itself.
  8. Reflect back to the group your observations about the places to intervene.
    • Places that are easily workable are “low hanging fruit.", but consider if they are impactful
    • Places that are hard and high priority represent areas where funders, policy makers, and researchers may be able to help in understanding or modifying the barriers to implementing high priority ideas.
    • Balancing the two assessment criteria: impact and feasibility

Evaluation Criteria:

  • The exercise has led to a rich list of places to intervene and the possible challenges, opportunities and impact.
  • Participants have high energy and express enthusiasm in finding potential places to intervene.
  • The group has developed a shared understanding of each possible places to intervene and how it maps into the system

Authors: Unknown


Largely based on an Action Ideas script

Revisions: None


Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage points: places to intervene in a system. Hartland, VT: The Sustainability Institute.


Understanding of Meadows’ work is implicit, not explicit.

If a place to intervene was not earlier listed, modelling team can add it to the CLD/stock and flow model, if the group agrees. It highlights that the model helps us to think of other variables that we might not have considered.