MED – today’s most important effectiveness principle

I went to the doctor the other month with a headache and he hit over the head with a plank of wood. Wrong solution. Made things worse.

I went to another and he gave me 500mg of Ibuprofen. Right solution, but not enough to calm the symptoms.

I went to third doctor and he prescribed 1kilogram of Ibuprofen. I spent 1 month in hospital getting over it.

A final doctor told me that what I needed was the minimum effective dose: The right amount of the right stuff to get the desired results. Not less, not more and not something else.


In all things effectiveness, leadership and communication, its the same story. I’ll take a presentation as an example:

  • Don’t use a table when a graph would be better. Don’t give technical facts when a story would be easier to understand.
  • Make sure you give enough content to make your point
  • ..but not so much as to send them to sleep (or the hospital if it’s really bad!)


Minimum Effective Dose, introduced to me by Tim Ferriss in his great book “The Four Hour Body”, is THE guiding principle for personal effectiveness, leadership and communication.

Ask yourself (always):

  • What MUST I have/say/do/be to get what I want?
  • What is “just a bit more” with no real impact, or worse still: negative impact?
  • What is the RIGHT WAY to get what I want?
  • What approach would not be appropriate?


Are you doing the MED right now?

How can you apply the MED principle to your own work?



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About Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

Posted on November 9, 2012, in Communication, Leadership, Presentation Skills, Self-Effectiveness and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

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