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Structural Thinking: Observe what really is

We mostly think we think, but what we usually do is comparing with and categorising into (unconsciously) existing concepts of reality. One could define a concept as what something means: The definition or meaning attached to an observation.

Concepts are never reality. That is why we have them, because we don’t know what reality is. The more conceptual we live, the less we live in actual reality.

We can derive meanings and definitions from:

  1. Experience
  2. Theories
  3. Concepts
  4. Worldviews
  5. Knowledge

With our usual thinking we then compare our observations with our concepts and automatically attach meanings. So we don’t observe what objectively is, but see the world through a subjective perception of pre-attached definitions and meanings.

Structural Thinking is about observing what actually is. Reality.

It follows the

Real scientific process

“Hypotheses have no place in science”

Isaac Newton

The tendency of the mind:

  1. Our mind wants to know, and is uncomfortable with not knowing.
  2. To resolve this tension it has the bad habit of free association. And does fill in the blanks with speculation.
  3. We end up believing we know, while we actually don’t know.

But if you want to live in touch with reality, knowing what you know and what you don’t know is key!

That is what Structural Thinking is about.

What follows is a step by step guideline to start learning Structural Thinking. As always we don’t aim for perfection, but simply progression 🙂

1. Start with nothing

Begin without: An idea, model, concept, theory, bias, reference to past experience, hypothesis, ideal, matrix or any other frame of reference.

2. Listen to what is said

3. PicturE (NON-VERBALLY) what is said

“He was able to free himself from the past constructs of science, and think visually.”

Walter Isaacson about Albert Einstein

Goal: To purely see what is said. Without commenting it internally. Like watching a verbal movie.


  1. You translate the words into pictures: imagine that there is a film crew in your head making a movie based on what is said.
  2. If information wasn’t provided we use placeholders.
  3. You just visualize picture by picture of what is said.
  4. Visualize the picture without talking to yourself. (That might take some practice initially)
  5. If you are leading the conversations you are in control of the flow: You can always slow the conversation down, if you can’t keep up with the picturing or ask questions.


  1. You don’t take notes or try to memorize what is said.
  2. If you don’t know the meaning of a word or phrase, don’t fake it.
  3. Don’t picture what you don’t know or understand: Use placeholders or ask questions.
  4. Don’t try to help, give advice, use any external frame of reference.
  5. Don’t jump to conclusions, solutions.
  6. It is not about feeling the other or resonance.
  7. Don’t make sense of what is said. Just picture.
  8. You dont need to picture every word but the meaning of the phrase.

4. Ask questions

Don’t try to be smart or pretend to know. Simply ask what you don’t know or understand. Picturing motivates questions to fill in pictures. Also, when someone expresses himself vaguely, ask more questions until it becomes clear.

The 4 types of questions:
  1. Information: You need more data to fill in your picture.
    • Example: “I have a job”. –> “What kind of job do you have?”
  2. Clarification: There is a word or phrase you don’t understand.
    • Example: “What do you mean by quality?”
  3. Implication: People don’t often say what they mean.
    • Example: “We got to the market too late” –> Implication: Better results if they had gotten in time to market.
    • Next step: Name the implication and validate if the partner agrees with it.
  4. Discrepancy: When there is an apparent contradiction.
    • Example: “I have not enough money” and later they say “I am very wealthy”.
    • Next step: Sort out the discrepancy and don’t make assumptions. Ask based on the pictures you are forming. There are only 2 possibilities: One point of information is incorrect or another piece of information is missing which explains the discrepancy.

5. Translate pictures back into words

From time to time, share the movie you created with your partner. And translate the picture back into words to let your partner know that you understood what they meant.


With ‘Structural Thinking’ you start with nothing, but you end with something. You come to new understandings.

That is real thinking not just categorising or comparing. It is as Robert Fritz, who coined the term ‘Structural Think’, says an ‘aimless pursuit for reality. There is no goal.’

Though you learn to observe reality without preconceived concepts. And as a result you will recognize the underlying structure. That enables change. Because change happens on the underlying structure.

Other wonderful side-effects:

  1. Your comprehension goes up. Language is linear, pictures are not.
  2. Your memory and retainment goes up. Your memory will become fotographic.
  3. You train your focus and remain present. From free association and bringing your memory in, to just staying with the specific thing that is said.
  4. You activate your visual centre.
  5. You become confortable with not knowing.


In essence what I am describing here is very simple and straight forward. Though it might take some training to establish that understanding of simplicity.

That is what my offering and training curriculum Structural Creativity is really about:

To empower you to Be As You Are and Create What You Love!  ❤️

And live in touch with reality

If that’s something that excites you and you wanna explore how I can support you – let’s connect!

Let’s schedule a free 30 min ‘Discovery Call’ today!