Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How to get off direct marketers' lists

I got these off the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)'s Consumer Assistance site and a Privacy Policy mailing from my bank. I've done all of the steps described below. I'll follow with an update in a few months.

How to stop direct marketing mailings (for five years)
  1. Go to Mail Preference Service.
  2. Fill in the online form. (You can also print out the form and mail it in with a $1 check but why bother?)
  3. Charge $1 to your credit card. It's a verification thing.
  4. That's it. But don't celebrate too soon. You'll only be off the list for five years.*
How to stop credit card mailings (for five years)
  1. Call 1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5-OPTOUT).
  2. Follow the instructions. You can choose to remove your name from the call list for five years or permanently. Choose wisely.
  3. Based on your phone number, they'll ask you to confirm your address and name (which they automatically know). You'll also be asked to enter your Social Security Number and date of birth.
  4. If you want, you can do the same for other people in your household. You'll just have to do the entire process again.
  5. Snail mail will be sent to you within five days, which you'll have to sign and send back.
  6. Rejoice, in a limited fashion.*
How to stop telemarketer calls (for five years or permanently)
  1. Go to the National Do Not Call Registry.
  2. Click the "Register Now"button and enter your phone number(s) and an email address. You'll need the email address to confirm your registration.
  3. Check for an email from the National Do Not Call Registry. Click the link in the email.
  4. You're done. Again, don't celebrate too much. You're only off the list for five years.*
* Remember, you're only off the lists of those scrupulous marketers (oxymoron alert!) who actually use these registries.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System

21-pg paper (PDF) published in 1999 by the late Donella Meadows, former director of the Sustainability Institute. (via kottke)

Applies to countries, cities, corporations, etc.

Places to intervene in a system
(in increasing order of effectiveness, i.e., read it like a top 10 chart; the good stuff is at the bottom)
  • Constants, parameters, numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards)
  • Sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows
  • Structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures)
  • Lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change
  • Strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against
  • The gain around driving positive feedback loops
  • Structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to what kinds of information)
  • Rules of the system (incentives, punishments, constraints)
  • Power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure
  • Goals of the system
  • The mindset or paradigm out of which the system - it's goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters - arises
  • The power to transcend paradigms
And, most strikingly, her closing words of wisdom: "The higher the leverage point, the more the system will resist changing it - that's why societies tend to rub out truly enlightened beings. ... Magical leverage points are not easily accessible, even if we know where they are ... You have to work at it, whether that means rigorously analyzing a system or rigorously casting off your own paradigms and throwing yourself into the humility of Not Knowing. In the end, it seems that power has less to do with pushing leverage points than it does with strategically, profoundly, madly letting go."

The details, as always, are in the reading. Go read the paper.

File under: systems thinking, hacking the system, change management