Mental Models: The Key to Making Reality-Based Decisions (HRDQ Skills Development)

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Now this is a fact. The vendor said it will take four weeks. But the mental model in this example assumes that whoever provided that information, on behalf of the vendor had correct information and also that that individual did not have any ability to be flexible with that time frame. Now, we go to the next step, the interpretation part. Interpretation has to do with opinions based on the data or part of the data. These are not provable.

That would be an example. And then we move to evaluation.

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Evaluations are value judgments that we place on the data information or the situation. So again back to our scenario, an example would be that the project manager messed up and should be replaced.

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So, in this example, some of the assumptions are the vendor cannot change the length of time required to process the order. The project manager is at fault. I want to point out, I understand this example is simple. But this slide is showing a potentially vicious cycle. Now remember I said at the beginning a characteristic of mental models is that they provide simplified explanations for complex situations. Now honestly, if you remember only one thing that I say today, please let it be this: Our assumptions have a very significant effect, a very large effect on how we select from reality.

And they can lead us to ignore the actual facts altogether. So completely skipping over observable and verifiable information. So we can literally jump to conclusion. This is actually where this phrase jumping to conclusions comes from. That we completely omit fact. You will always define events in a manner which will validate your agreement with reality. So it stands to reason that we need to carefully examine and challenge honestly all of our assumptions.

Mental Models and How We Make Sense of Things

So how are we going to go about clarifying our assumptions? Your customer, your workplace culture, definitely the conditions within your industry. And ask questions. Over, over and over again, ask questions. What might I be missing here?


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Or what exactly did you mean when you said that? What is your understanding of. So just really encouraging you to continually ask questions. Sometimes these assumptions are too deeply ingrained. In that case, you can make use of the questions that are listed in your screen or certainly modify them so use questions that are similar to the ones on your screen. So during most of the 20th century they held a dominant position in photographic film.


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  • In , for example, they had 90 percent of the photographic film sales market share in the United States. So despite that domination, Kodak began to struggle financially in the late s. And it was because of the decline in sales of photographic film. But also their speed or their lack of speed I should say in transitioning to digital photography.

    They had. And I see someone asked me the name of the person I quoted earlier and that was Steve Maraboli. Want and allow are two different things. Good point. Parents pay attention to what children play. Parents can keep their kids from playing games. We are making an assumption that we all think violence is the same to everybody.

    Future felons. Parents do care. That violence is not subjective. Some of these themes are clearly repeating. Parents will monitor them at all times. Parents think that viewing violence will lead to violent behavior. Terrific, this is just an exceptional list. Controlling exposure at school. That parents are aware of the level of violence. A number of you have pointed out the use of the word never. Indiana brain scan study demonstrates the role of violent video games on brain function. Assuming that the target is kids.

    Assumes that all kids are the same. I want to make clear that my purpose in this exercise. And you had just an absolute extraordinary list. I actually still see that some of you are typing. So some of these assumptions may or may not be valid. But this first critical step is to expose them.

    Edwin Land founded the company in Ten years later he designed a camera that developed instant photographs.

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    This camera was an instant, pardon the pun, an instant success. And the way that the company made money was primarily from selling film for these cameras. Now, they made three main assumptions which are listed on your screen. First, they thought the customers would always want hard copy prints of their images. The second was they thought they would always be able to make money through development and photographic chemistry.

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    So, according to former VP Sheldon Bucker, the Polaroid company culture had a bias completely against electronics. And as I said earlier, instant film was the core of their financial model. The third assumption falls from this. So one way to assess the accuracy of your mental models is to be on the lookout for what we call typical mental mistakes.

    Those are listed on your screen. The first is that we tend to notice evidence that supports our mental models and overlooks or disregards evidence that is inconsistent with it.

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