When faced with complex problems, it's tempting to try to simplify. We want to immediately categorize the problem as being of a certain kind, or one that is soluble by the application of certain skills or techniques. Or, we look to subdivide the problem into its constituent parts, refactoring it into a series of discrete sub-problems that can be resolved in turn. But problems are often more than the some of their parts. There's a kind of synergy at play.
It's important to as much as possible consider the problem holistically: think about how the different pieces interact with one another, looking beyond simple, direct relationships to unexpected and second-order effects.
- Chain link systems cannot be improved by focusing on one link alone - Fixing one weak link in a chain-link system doesn't improve the whole chain if the other links are still weak. The whole thing needs to be addressed.
- Specialization narrows our perspective on what is salient to a problem - On the tendency of specialization to limit our perspective on what is salient