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The Three Essential Properties of the Engineering Mind-Set

Guru Madhavan

"The core of the engineering mind-set is what I call modular systems thinking. It’s not a singular talent, but a melange of techniques and principles. Systems-level thinking is more than just being systematic; rather, it’s about the understanding that in the ebb and flow of life, nothing is stationary and everything is linked. The relationships among the modules of a system give rise to a whole that cannot be understood by analyzing its constituent parts."

Guru Madhavan

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The Three Essential Properties of the Engineering Mind-Set

The Three Essential Properties of the Engineering Mind-Set

https://fs.blog/2015/06/the-engineering-mind-set/

fs.blog

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Key Ideas

Guru Madhavan

Guru Madhavan

"The core of the engineering mind-set is what I call modular systems thinking. It’s not a singular talent, but a melange of techniques and principles. Systems-level thinking is more than just being systematic; rather, it’s about the understanding that in the ebb and flow of life, nothing is stationary and everything is linked. The relationships among the modules of a system give rise to a whole that cannot be understood by analyzing its constituent parts."

Thinking in Systems

It means to be able to break down a big system into its sections and putting it back together. The target is to identify the strong and weak links: how the sections work, don’t work, or could potentially work and applying this knowledge to engineer useful outcomes.

There is no engineering method, so modular systems thinking varies with contexts.

Fundamental Properties of the Engineering Mind-Set

  • The ability to see a structure where there’s nothing apparent.
  • Adeptness at designing under constraints.
  • The capacity to hold alternative ideas in your head and make considered judgments.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Inner, other and outer focus
Inner, other and outer focus

We need three kinds of focus:

  • Inner focus guides our values and decisions.
  • Other focus smooths our...
Continual partial attention

We increasingly find it difficult to focus on the hear and now without checking our phones. We seem to go through life in a state of "continual partial attention." We're there but not aware of where we put our attention.

While modern technology has its advantages, our attention span is suffering. Teachers are noticing that current students find it hard to read books that previous students used to enjoy. Teachers think that students' ability to read has been compromised by short text messages and video games.

Two main varieties of distractions
  • Sensory: We can more easily tune out from sensory distractions. For example, the feel of your tongue against your upper palate is an incoming stimuli your brain weeds out.
  • Emotional distraction is more difficult to tune out. When you overhear someone mention your name, it's almost impossible to ignore.

Those who focus best are relatively immune to emotional disturbance.

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Risk Compensation
Risk Compensation

Risk protection is normally done to minimize the harm a particular activity can do to us. There are various things we do to reduce our risk, to make ourselves safer.

Behaviour scientists po...

Risk Compensation Effects
  • When automobile safety laws were introduced, the drivers started taking more risks while driving, leading to more pedestrian accidents.
  • Children (and even adults) take more physical risks while playing a sport with protective gear.
  • Safety features like Anti-lock brakes in vehicles ended up increasing the accidents for taxi drivers in Germany
  • Child-proof caps on medicine bottles made parents careless about their being opened by kids, including the ones which don’t have the safety feature.
The Carelessness Effect

Having a safety device in place, and armed with the knowledge that we can push the envelope a bit, the appetite for risk increases.

  • People who have an emergency fund in place tend to be less careful about their investments.
  • People wearing a face-mask in this global pandemic feel like they are safer in crowded places (It’s a face mask, not an Iron Man suit).

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Collective Intelligence
Collective Intelligence

While looking for solutions and answers, we find that an individual provides a different answer than a group of people. Wisdom of the crowd is often considered better, as an individual might be bia...

One Brain Vs Many Brains

Multiple brains work well when the answer is a simple numerical figure or fact, and the question is not coming from the collective intelligence themselves. It helps when the input mechanism posing the problem to the collective intelligence has strict quality control.

Individuals, when given substantial powers, start to achieve ‘optimal stupidity’, especially when they are not held accountable for the results and consequences.

Peer Review

Scientific communities make good use of the peer-review process (individuals checking each other) to achieve quality on the basis of a meritocracy.

No mechanism is fool-proof, with bad reporting, incompetency and self-delusion among many individual contributors diminishing the quality of the solutions.

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