How to Recognize Levers in an Organization

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"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." -Archimedes, Pappus of Alexandria

Often people who are more powerful are bested by people who know how to use leverage. One of the rawest forms that this is exhibited is in sports such as wrestling. A smaller man is capable of defeating a much larger man if they are able to use leverage against the larger wrestler.

Physics refers to this phenomenon as Mechanical Advantage. Mechanical Advantage is the factor by which a mechanism multiplies the force put into it. This concept works as well for business or any endeavor of life as it does for Physics or Engineering. The key is to recognize the levers. Here are some common levers in an organization.
  • Structure - The hierarchy or org chart - formal or informal - relationships also come into play

  • Rules - Boundaries of acceptable behavior - norms

  • Resources - Who controls?

  • Thresholds - How much movement triggers change?

  • Feedback - Positive or negative from influencers

  • Identity - Reputation, Trust, Affiliations
By learning to recognize the possible levers in your environment, you will be in a position to gain an advantage. Aren't we always looking for an edge?
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