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Which Mental Models Does Your Organization Use


A mental model is a catch-all term for any concept, framework, or worldview you carry around with you.

They guide our perceptions and behaviors, so it is useful to pause to see which ones are in play for us.

“Better safe than sorry” is a very common mental model. People operating with this one will often take actions to minimize risk or make detailed plans about the future.

As an economist, a mental model that deeply colors all of my views is that “incentives matter”.

Whether or not you inherently trust people you’ve never met is probably a mental model in play.

Mental models are explicitly used by organizations or teams.

For example, “be outcome blind” might be a common refrain to remind people to focus on the process.

Many times an organization or team will operate using unstated mental models.

For example, an organization may have a bias toward hopping on every opportunity that comes along, regardless of strategic or tactical advantage, because implicitly it is operating for “regret minimization”.

What mental models do you observe within your workplace overall, or your team specifically around ...?

  • conflict
  • transparency
  • deadlines
  • how the work gets done
  • being a team player
  • taking breaks or time off
  • leadership

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