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My chain fell off the other day. If you’ve ever owned a bike, you know exactly what that means, and I’ve reminded you of some evil thoughts you’ve had toward that chain.

When the chain falls off, you can’t ignore it. The bike won’t ride until it’s back on.  Simplistically, looking at a single speed bike, you have a small rear cog and a large front cog. Seems simple enough, thread the chain through both cogs, right? Wrong. As soon as you thread one cog, the chain is too tight for the other cog. You have to figure out a way to thread the chain through both cogs at the same time.

The chain and both cogs are a part of a system. You can’t focus on one cog and ignore the other. You have to address the whole system. The bike was specifically designed to function this way. And when one component fails, it affects the whole system. All parts are interconnected and rely on each other for the whole system to function properly.

When you come across a complex problem that is difficult to solve, take a step back. Is this really an isolated problem or is it actually part of a complex network of interconnected events? Solving complex problems, creating innovative solutions, and promoting positive change require systems thinking. When you attack problems from a systems level, it can be “off the chain!”

Photo credit: bicycleparts.us


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