Structural Thinking

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by Viswamitra, Aug 14, 2022.

  1. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    We are all so busy and huffing and puffing with so much going on in our plates. With so much information coming in the digital technology world, it is imperative for us to see where we are going and what our goal is without which we will miss the most crucial information which is already in our hands. Catching up is inevitable in a fast-moving world but wasting time on analyzing and interpreting with no results is not acceptable. That is why structural thinking is necessary for our daily day=to-day life.

    I was not familiar with this term until I was 34 years old. When I was working for a premier R & D organization, I heard of this term a lot in the meetings when the young engineers were talking about structural thinking to design and develop a MIMD high-performance parallel computer and a system software needed to run it. But it came in and went out as I was not involved in those activities and my role was managing the finances of the premier R & D organization. We all know we feel the heat only when we are thrown into the fire.

    I moved to the US and was handling structuring the proposals and associated financial models for multi-year multi-million-dollar proposals going out to Fortune 500 companies. Every deal was critical, and I used to read a lot of information about the client’s requirement to understand what key phrases in their requirements that we should build in our proposal that would attract immediate attention of the clients. Mainly, what problem the client is trying to solve, how to structure the solution and how to communicate this to the client and finally how do we budget the cost that is commensurate to the size and scope of the problem. The CEO won’t sign the proposal until I sign the proposal and explain why this proposal makes sense in a face-to-face meeting. That developed some strategic planning and thinking in my head over this incredible experience. It would be wrong to say that I succeeded all the time as we lost mostly 7 out of 10 proposals but 30% bid to win ratio was considered exceptional prior to year 2000.

    Then came the IPO challenge where I was part of the team to prepare the company for NASDAQ listing. It involved enormous effort to understand how to explain the business model in plain English so that common public can understand, and how to make the institutional investors buy into the business model. This experience enabled me to develop my skills in structural thinking.

    Then I was thrown into a new role of handling acquisitions. I had a Board Member joining the company full-time and he had extraordinary skills in M & A but won’t conduct a training for me as he believed only by experience only one can understand the business models of acquisition targets rapidly and assimilate the information to communicate internally. We had visited number of companies throughout the world and after such meetings, we used to have prolonged dinner meetings in which he would ask series of questions. I used to hate him for not saying what he needs to communicate. Later I realized that he was preparing me to think independently and structurally to write down the summary of everything we heard in a meeting. Mainly, he trained me to ask questions about things that are not covered in the meeting and find the cons of such acquisitions instead of pros. He trained me to watch body languages and the subjects that are quickly covered or skipped in the meetings so that we can focus those areas at the time of due diligence.

    Generally, it is always difficult to understand the thoughts of others but with structural thinking, it is possible to get close to such thoughts. It requires a skill that would get into the root cause of that thought and unfold the line of thinking. By doing this, once can save plenty of time in life. Even though I am 67 years old, and all those skills are dormant for a while now, the puzzle solving brought back those wonderful memories to the forefront. What are the key words, what is not being said, what the puzzle make is targeting to bring out, which are direct and indirect clues, what are the unspoken words of the puzzle maker, etc., in my opinion, rebuilds that structural thinking skills.

    I am sure software professionals have used this technique for building solutions for complex problems. I would like to hear how they used the structural thinking skills in their professional and personal life.
     
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  2. Srinidhi007

    Srinidhi007 Silver IL'ite

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    What an insightful post Sir. so much to learn from you..we are lucky to learn from such experienced and big people who handled different scenarios.

    I have never heard of this Structural thinking, your post motivated me to learn more about this. for the past few days, i was thinking in the lines of the points which you have mentioned in your post. i will try to check more about this and see how i can use this in my work area.

    on a different note, being mindful helps me in handling daytoday rush and eliminating unwanted worry and to focus on what is the key goal\long term goal. am working on this and long way to go... any tips would be helpful

    Looking forward to learn more from you Sir. Thanks for the post.
     
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  3. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    @Srinidhi007,

    I feel humbled and honored by your kind words. All I know so far are something I learned from others particularly people who are much younger than me but rich in wisdom. I didn't hear that term until I was 34 years old. I noticed that structural thinking helps at work but also in personal life. I felt how much it would have helped me if I knew this term and used it at my young age.

    1) This might be helpful in rearing the children and understand the world from their perspective.
    2) Excellent skill to possess when one is negotiating something in the business.
    3) It is also helpful in inter-personnel relationship at work and at home.
    4) It is handy in any development effort we make including our own personal growth and development. I have personally applied this line of thinking for my career growth that helped me plan where to spend my time at work, what type of knowledge to build, what to research, how to make notes of business experiences, etc.

    In order to be mindful, we need to understand the mind well. I have written many articles here in IL about the mind. If you search with my profile, you may be able to see all the threads I have posted with respect to mind. I am creating an index of all the threads written by me in Education & Personal Growth with respect to mind. I am giving below the link to this index. (This index is not complete as yet as I have many more threads to link)

    Placeholder Of Thoughts About The Mind
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
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  4. Srinidhi007

    Srinidhi007 Silver IL'ite

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    Thanks for pointing out the ways we can use the Structural Thinking in our daily life. am already googling it more on this aspect.

    Regarding Mindfullness..wow you have written 50+ articles in that link..i am going to read everything...this is really required for me at this stage of my life. Thanks again.
     
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  5. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you @Srinidhi007. I am just indexing it slowly and I have a lot more I had written here in IL since 2012-2013 period. Please take your time to go through them at your convenience. I would value your comments on each one of these threads. Not all of them are about mindfulness. Some talks about mind and some talk about consciousness. A few are about right living.

    The way I used to write was based on my thoughts flowing on that particular day when I was spiritually elevated. They are not eloquently articulated but simple extract of my thoughts as received in the mind. To a certain extent, they were structured for easy reading.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2022
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  6. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Viswa,
    :hello:Kudos to your brilliant analysis of structural thinking and its connection in various spheres of life. Very valuable points that are worth brooding about.

    It is true , An edifice can not be built without a strong foundation.

    A comprehensive survey is required to collect data that can be analysed to arrive at fruitful beneficial results. A brain storming needed with all connected to find out how to proceed with a problem or to arrive at economic consensus.

    It is always akin to attempting to extinguish a fire; a fire caused by electrical leakage is handled differently from a fire in forest or hazardous chemical factory in fire.
    A part of ship on high seas in flames is handled differently. A General Average of the voyage declared fixes who will bear how much of losses!

    A contract for service can not be concluded unless one understands all the ramifications of the entire service agreement in a given period as in clearing commercial documents ( completion of bill of entry or shipping bill) from customs and handling, loading, hauling-transporting (logistics) of the consignments. The consignment can be anything from live animals like elephants, birds, or huge drilling rigs, aircraft parts, cable drums or automobiles, or nuclear related, hazardous cargo, lose unpacked grains.

    There can be unexpected hurdles and unanticipated hurdles enroute to a project. It is difficult to visualise and so known conditions simulated in a session or in a lab before arriving at conclusion or decision. Sitting in ivory tower or and discussing only with few known persons, sometime lead us nowhere in getting solution to the structural problems.

    Once i had a problem in midway of an issue which was not thought of in the beginning and it was outside my ambit of work. This predicament i described in link
    Spouse & I - Ship In Unchartered Territory

    The data analytics is the modern clichè and professionals engaged in this are part of analysing huge volume of data that lends succour in strengthening the power to understand the whole process.

    I am not sure as to how my this feedback or view is relevant here yet these are thoughts generated after studying the post and reading responses of @Srinidhi007 ( a james bond). ot

    Thanks and Regards.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2022
  7. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Viswa,
    After posting my feed back at #10, i remembered to have read in more detail about subject under discussion and gathered many more valuble points. One such webpage I have come across is in the link
    The Art Of Structured Thinking And Analyzing
    Just for information.
    Thanks and Regards.
     
  8. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Thyagarajan Sir,

    Thank you for your comprehensive responses. I remember reading your thread and responding to it. First time, I experienced the importance of structural thinking is when we are fixed pricing major multi-year multi-million dollars maintenance outsourcing projects. It is imperative to not only learn those applications but also the quality of those development efforts. If an application is built through a series of patch work, we will end up spending a lot more time maintaining them at much lower price. The risk involved in fixed pricing projects are heavier. In order to mitagate the risks, we used to price the front end analysis of the applications on a time and material basis to evaluate the applications so that we are completely familiar with the applications maintained in future. We also provide heavy hours during the period before the maintainence project reaches the steady state situation.

    A lot of structural thinking is needed when we price $30-$40 million projects with Fortune 500 companies as it would be difficult to go back and renegotiate price. At the same time, we need to be competitive so that no one is else is taking away the projects from us. This was one of the greatest experiences in my life besides the IPO and M & A.
     
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