In the field of decision making, creating a structure is the first step in organizing, representing and solving a problem. A structure is a model, an abstraction of a problem. It helps us visualize and understand the relevant elements within it that we know from the real world and then use our understanding to solve the problem represented in the structure with greater confidence. In general, there are two kinds of structures used to represent problems: hierarchies and networks. Both rely to a varying degree on the interactions. Some examples are given followed by a discussion about how to structure the problem. At a minimum, a structure must satisfy two requirements: that it be logical in identifying and grouping similar things together, and that it relates them accurately according to the flow of influence among them. It must be complete with nothing left out that has an important influence. The structure is then tested as to whether it helps solve the problem to one’s satisfaction.
European Journal of Operational Research 199(3), pp.867-872