Monday, August 29, 2016

Out of date Mental Models

One of the things that scares me is being wedded to outdated mental models.

You see this in sports a lot.

A player is great in one environment. We immediately think "this player is a great player." Say, Scottie Pippen on the Bulls. Or Kevin Garnett on the Celtics.

But then, the game changes. The player changes.  But our mental models don't.

So, Scottie Pippen goes to the Blazers. Garnett goes to the Nets. People think "this player is  great player, he'll help us."

But he doesn't.

You see this in business a lot as well. People will say, "Oh, I have a guy or a company who can really help us. She was great in a past job."

But today's business environment isn't the same as that of 5 years ago.

You could drop a member of the 1960s Celtics into an NBA game now and that player would know that it's basketball, but he wouldn't be able to compete.

The employee or firm who was "a rockstar" 10 years ago...may not be today.

There are new facts on the ground and the mental models of that person, company, player, or, heck, political candidate, need to be updated.

Nothing is static.

Now, I've realized that it's near impossible for me to change the mental model of other people.

If you support Obama, it doesn't matter if his response to Louisiana flooding was worse than Bush for Katrina.

And if you support Trump, you can easily ignore his racist/hate-filled supporters. Or if you support Clinton, no amount of evidence about emails or potential conflicts of interest are going to change your mind.

That's not my issue. My issue is:

What do I do to make sure that my mental models don't go stale?

How do I not fall into the trap of believing something once and then never going back to challenge those assumptions?

I've gotten a few good answers recently. One of them from Rebecca who said,

"I just look at an article about Hillary or Obama-whom I support- and then I do a mental 'find/replace' with the words Dick Cheney.

If reading that article about him with the same facts would get me riled up, I start asking myself if my image of Clinton and Obama is as clear as it could be."

Nothing is static.

It's when we think it is that we are blindsided by all of the changes out there.

The skill I am looking to develop is one where, like software getting updated, my mental models are being refreshed constantly.

The question is: what's the best way to do that?

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