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How systems work

  • Published
  • By Brad Eychner
  • Officer Spouse's Club president
When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was take things apart to see how they worked. I wasn't always able to put these things back together. Approximately 50 percent of the time, I'd wait for the item to no longer be serviceable before I'd begin dismantling it, so it didn't really matter if I could put it back together or not. The other 50 percent of the time, I just hoped I wouldn't get caught.

I was always amazed at the inner workings of a blender motor, remote control car, vacuum cleaner, keyboard or even a simple lamp. To this day I enjoy taking things apart.

Just the other day, our 20-month-old son dropped my wife's phone on the ground shattering the screen. I must say that a phone in pieces is not anywhere near as cool as a coffee pot with all its tubing, pumps, water heater, timers and valves. I can't begin to describe the lessons I learned from the complete destruction of these inanimate objects, but I'll make a feeble attempt at describing a couple.

When you take a complete system apart and look at the individual pieces that make up the whole, no matter how small the piece might be, you see that each piece is there for a reason. Each piece has a specific role and a specific function that, if that piece were not there, the system would fail to work.

There are always pieces that, regardless how hard you try, you can't figure out what they do but you know they are in there for a reason. That particular piece's role is no less important than any other.

Most of the time, parts can be replaced. Sometimes the replacement is an exact fit. Sometimes, the fit is close, but still accomplishes the task. Sometimes the part can't be replaced and you have to start brand new.

Finally, it's necessary to have the right tools to successfully take the item apart and to put the item back together. The right tools might be a specific screwdriver, wrench, or sometimes even more importantly, the knowledge to accomplish the task.

I have the distinct privilege to wear multiple hats. The most important role I fill is as the spouse of an Airman at Travis. Second, and no less important, I am a father. Finally, I wear hats as a key spouse for the Force Support Squadron and as the president of the Travis Officers' Spouses' Club. Each one of these "systems" - from our family to the squadron to the OSC - is comprised of parts. Each part in the system has to step up and do what is required of it or the whole system will fail. Obviously, this can be applied to any organization that you are part of.