What is reality, but what we think it is. Put another way it is our mental models that shape the way that we see the world. They shape our attitudes & behaviors. But they may be right or wrong. We may or may not be seeing the true or full picture.
A mental model is: ‘an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world’.
It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about his or her own acts and their consequences. This word ‘representation’ is important because it it is merely that – how we subjectively see things.
The bundle of beliefs that construct our mental model, whether it is right or wrong, are often rigid and fixed. They are often tacit – that is to say they are often understood or implied without being stated. Indeed they often tend to go unquestioned. But being resistant to change they can easily get out-of-sync with reality.
In today’s complicated and uncertain environment rigid mental models pose dangers. They can blind us to; changes in the external environment (such as the changing needs of customers, or the emergence of a new competitor), or to our own performance or potential.
Through our various senses we are bombarded with vast amounts of information about the external world. Our brains greatest strength is its ability to manage and simplify the information it receives. But that strength can also be a weakness.
As humans we are prone to simplify even the most complex subjects. In spite of our management training we look for the easy answers, jump to simplistic conclusions (e.g. A causes B). We are drawn to the quick fix or magic bullet. But what happens if (as so often is the case) the situation is more complex that we think?
Creative problem solving or any form of innovation requires working on our mental models – holding them up to scrutiny and perhaps smashing them. It requires looking beyond the obvious, questioning old ways of seeing things, seeing new linkages and inter-relationships. This is at the core of identifying new business models, creating innovative new solutions and serving unmet needs.
Indeed if you want to affect change then you need to work on people’s mental models. To fundamentally change people’s behaviors you need to change how they see the situation and their relationship to it.
The PitStop actively engages with and challenges the model of business and team performance/growth. It frames and re-frames the issue to powerful effect. That is key to its sustained impact on business performance.