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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Published by Dan Steer

For the last 17 years, I have been helping businesses and individuals to achieve their goals through delivery of tailor-made learning and development initiatives. Most of the time, I deliver training, coach individuals, facilitate brainstorming sessions, round-table meetings and workshops. As a consultant, I help my clients to promote and profit from the infinite learning opportunities within and without their own organisation, drawing on my L+D management experience, strategic approach and creativity, As a speaker, I inspire through story, humour and pertinent little bits of theory. I believe that the world would be a better place if people were happily working on their mission with competence and alignment to personal values. As a freelance worker since 2008, I have helped more than 11000 individuals to improve their presentation, communication, commercial, leadership and negotiation skills. I confront people with their own behaviour and convictions, facilitating and giving pertinent feedback and clear ideas on where to continue good work and improve. I seek to satisfy my clients with creative and to-the-point solutions… …and I make music, but no-one pays me much for it yet :-) First single here:

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