A mental model is a way of looking at the world, and we all have at least one. Most people have more than one – because this is, of course, also how we solve problems. Put simply, mental models are the set of tools that you use to think. Each mental model offers a different framework that you can use to look at life (or at an individual problem).
This is precisely why learning about lots of mental models is so important in a role that requires analysis and execution of lots of different types of problems. They are just tools in a toolkit, and the more you have, the better your outcomes. Conversely, if you only know a couple of ways to solve problems and you apply them to everything that comes your way… you’re going to hit a lot of things with your hammer that aren’t nails, to reference the old saying.
Everyday Mental Models:
Hugh Culver writes a great piece on the mental models we can use in our everyday lives to focus on the right work, be more organized, and collaborate better at http://hughculver.com/mental-models-help-think-teach-change-lives
If you have a little time up your sleeve, this piece on Medium (another GREAT source of content) by Gabriel Weinberg is well worth your time – https://medium.com/@yegg/mental-models-i-find-repeatedly-useful-936f1cc405d#.rzb92qkal
Mental Models for Product Managers
When you, as a product leader, need to make decisions about your product strategy and execution, there are a number of specific mental models you can use to help drive good decision making. You can use these to prioritize better, communicate and collaborate more efficiently and learn new techniques and ideas. Get started here, and follow the links.
Mental Models for Founders
I’m including this piece in here because I found this piece extremely inspirational, and while it’s tailored to the ‘Founder Mindset’, I actually found a lot of these models applied to decisions about life in general and Product Management in particular, so well worth a read.
Writing this post was a great learning exercise that forced me to think about my own mental models, and learn some new ones – even ones I didn’t really agree with at the start! If you have some more resources you can point me to in this area, please leave a comment – I’ll be ever so grateful!