Consider Problems Holistically

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.


Related

Citations

Martin, Roger L. The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking. 1st edition. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press, 2007.


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