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:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


3 Ways School Leaders Can Put Transparency into Action

Originally featured in Most school leaders would say that transparency is one of their guiding principles in their school. But when faced with tough opposition in the midst of change, consider this: is your Read more…


Guiding Principles and Tech Help Students Become Leaders

Originally featured in EdTech Magazine Student leadership is now being classified as a soft skill that needs to be a part of classroom instruction. Our innovative work force relies on students to demonstrate this skill. Read more…

authentic learning

End Your Fixation on Tech Tools

Originally featured in the “Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag. One of the most exciting trends in education today is the integration Read more…