Shiva – Shakthi and Product Design

Shiva – Shakthi and Product Design

Every Feb/March, comes Shiva Rathri celebration in Indian sub-continent and world over. The enigma of Lord Shiva and Shakthi has many different explanations and yet there is no universal answer. On one extreme, Hollywood uses erotic man-female interpretation since it fits commercial needs. On the other end, meta physics sees this more like energy and its manifestation. Yoga has very diverse takes on Shiva.

This leaves me some scope to give another meaning in my area of expertise – product design – in specific – software design. Let me start from this definition of shiva Shakthi. – Shiva is unmanifested energy and Shakthi is the manifested energy.

shiva shakti product design

I will first introduce the proposed meaning for Shiva and Shakthi in engineering domain. In the language of engineering, the ‘symbolic representations’ are called ‘models’. I will explain this “Shiva Shakthi model” and the real life use of this model.

A. The Model

Shiva – Shakthi as a model. We will consider Shiva as the inherent strength of structure. It has unmanifested energy – inertial energy. Let Shakthi is the energy with structure/shape. To simplify, let me take you to the two examples below – i) about a wooden table, and ii) about a software.

i) Wooden table example

Shiva is the energy of the structure. It is unmanifested since there is no force that awakens the inertial energy of the structure. Shakthi is the force that tries to alter the structure. For a still structure, only gravity would be the force.

If the structure is weak and can not withstand the weight, what happens? Table would get destroyed.  It can probably withstand initially. But over time or when extra force is applied, the structure may break. But for durability, if you make it too strong, it would be too expensive.

Strength of the structure and the force should be balanced for an optimal product.

Only if Shiva and Shakthi are balanced, it gives the best outcome.

ii) Now the example from software –

In the above software block diagram, the structure of the software is represented by the blocks. It is useless if there is no data flow in the structure. What we do when we develop software is to create the structure. when software ‘runs’, the data flows. The part what we see is Shakthi – the structural aspects of the software. The data flowing during the ‘run time’ is Shiva.

Are you a software guy? Read the below paragraph. Otherwise, skip this and move to read the real life use of Shiva & Shakthi !

Most of the software quality issues are about software crashes. One of the biggest problems is ‘buffer overflow’ during run time. When structure is not adequate to hold the data, this happens i.e. Shiva is more than Shakthi. Out of balance, you have a software run-time defect.

To understand Shiva and Shakthi in design, consider UML diagrams. There are diagrams for structural definition and for dynamic (run time/behavioral) behavior definition. A good software design details both Shiva and Shakthi aspects of the system – i.e. both structural and behavioral nature.

B. Real Life Use – Model of Shiva & Shakthi in Product Engineering

Without real life application of a model, it is of very limited help. Here are the 3 ways, the concept could be used.

1) Design Documentation Review

Software design is both art and science. One of the important steps in SW design – is the design review. Many a times, design reviews are not fully effective.

Most of the times, the design documentation is an afterthought. A task done for the sake of doing it. Besides, many engineers do it in improper way- Some aspects of the design is too detailed. Some other aspect is not covered at all. Some times structural break down is done. But dynamic analysis not done at all.

Look at UML diagram and see whether they are balanced. A good design would have considered both structural and also behavioral aspects to the same depth.

i.e. you have good design if Shiva and Shakthi are balanced.

2) Design Optimization

While engineering products, another major step in design is design optimization. Here are the two issues and how Shiva-Shakthi could help.

i) Over-design: If designer is being too safe, the system is ‘over-designed’. i.e. Shiva is always higher than Shakthi. Shiva can not destroy the structure. So the system is never going to break even in worst situations. But the problem is over-designed product could be expensive and may not be viable in the market.

ii) Under-design: If organization is optimizing product cost too much, you might have seen that the product has no strength. It breaks even with little force. Like ‘China toys’. Shiva is stronger than Shakthi.

You could extend this to non-technical scenarios like deciding the purchase of something – across high, medium or low segment of product choices. If you pick up the model, it could help in ‘getting gut feel’ on many choices.

3) Buying Choices for Non-Engineers

Whenever we buy products, we are given mind boggling amount of technical information. Based this, we are supposed to make choices. Unfortunately, so much of data, only confuses. We would need simpler thumb rule. About the furniture you need or for the toys you buy, all you need to look for, is the right balance of Shiva and Shakthi in your end use.  It makes it lot clearer to think through and decide.

Wrapping it up…

Now what? As a statistician wrote –

All models are wrong. But some are useful“.

Hope this one is useful in work place for product designers and architects. Hope it helps to see Shiva and Shakthi in different light and contemplate.

Let me know what you think !

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