April 23, 2014

Mental Model: Situational Knowledge

Jack Donaghy

Last night, I was talking with Aaron about the situational knowledge mental model and its implication for business innovation.  For those of you who aren't familiar with it, situational knowledge is a type of experience-based knowledge that arises either organically or through training, creating a database of relevant facts and implicit understandings about situations, people, or processes that you may not even be aware exists but that stands ready to be called upon at a moment's notice.  It is a … [Read more...]

Mental Model: The Psychology of Music and Its Influence on Mood and Business Results

Jurassic Park Theme Song

Following the post on the Dies Irae Principle earlier, I started thinking about the role of sound in regulating mood.  Thirteen years ago, I was sitting in my undergraduate freshman music theory class, having moved thousands of miles away from home to begin university.  At the time, I had enrolled in the Bachelor of Music program with a concentration in classical performance, using my voice to pay for a big part of the tuition bill and my piano skills to breeze through a lot of requirements ( … [Read more...]

Jurassic Park and Mental Models

Jurassic Park Leather Bound Book

Over the past 24 hours, I needed to run some fairly intensive server processes for a business that I still oversee myself as it's mostly automated.  I managed to make it so efficient that I turned 21.18 gigabytes of data into 176.9 megabytes of data; a reduction of 99.17%.  I still have quite a bit of work to do, as I think I can shrink it even further.  The framework was very old, and by re-writing it, consolidating, deleting unnecessary accumulated data, and streamlining the file structure, th … [Read more...]

Tales of Xillia and the Power of the Mere Association Mental Model

Tales of Xillia Artes

After writing about mental models earlier today, it made me realize how this approach to life becomes second nature to examine your own thoughts and feelings as they happen so you are self-aware of the subconscious triggers that are pulling your thought processes in one direction or another.  In that respect, even a video game can be useful as a tool. When I was studying the Walt Disney empire, one of the comments that kept coming up was that Disney knew how to tap into these mental … [Read more...]

Never Give Into the “Good Boy” or “Good Girl” Syndrome

Australian Player Random Slaying

There's a particularly powerful mental model - I won't identify it for those of you who are still learning to memorize them on your own, leaving you a bit of a challenge - that constantly comes up in the news in a way that makes me so incredibly angry it's hard to understate.  It's the "He's a good boy" syndrome, when a parent or friend of someone who does horrifically evil things insists that the person is just misunderstood. You see it all the time in the case of murders, child molesters, … [Read more...]

Some Truths Are Counterintuitive – What We Can Learn from the Mpemba Effect

Mpemba Effect

For water to freeze, it must reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  For water to boil, it must reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit.  The question: Which freezes faster: Room temperature water (say, 75 degrees Fahrenheit) or boiling water (212 degrees Fahrenheit)? The common sense answer would be room temperature water would freeze faster because it is only 43 degrees away from freezing, while the boiling water is 180 degrees away from freezing.  That answer is often wrong.  Boiling water can freeze faster than … [Read more...]

Mental Model: Mere Exposure Effect or the Familiarity Principle

Charlie Munger Mental Models

The mere exposure effect, also known as the familiarity principle, describes a phenomenon that causes humans to rate or feel positively about things to which they are frequently and consistently exposed, including other people.  All else equal, you will buy products, invest in stocks, frequent establishments, and engage in behaviors that are familiar to you based on past exposure.  This can lead to suboptimal decisions and results and has no basis in rationality.  It can also pin you in to si … [Read more...]

You Can Destroy Your Entire Life With One Wrong Decision

Petraeus, David - Commander, International Security Assistance Force

It's time for some mental model homework.   It isn't often that I read a news story that causes me to grieve.  Yet, that is exactly what is happening with the revelations coming out about General Petraeus, the disgraced CIA director and former military commander who had to resign after it was revealed he cheated on his wife of 37-years with a married biographer named Paula Broadwell. The actors may have changed but this story is as ancient as humanity itself.  There are so many victims in … [Read more...]

Mental Model: The Shoichi Yokoi Fallacy

Shouichi Yokoi

Shoichi Yokoi was a Japanese tailor born in 1915.  When he was 25 years old, his country sent him to war with the idea that he and his fellow soldiers were to fight to the death and avoid the shame of surrender.  In 1944, the United States military seized Guam, where Yokoi was stationed.  Rather than give up and face disgrace, Yokoi and more than 1,000 of his fellow soldiers hid the jungles.  All of his compatriots died of starvation or disease, or were captured.  Although he knew that the Unit … [Read more...]

Martha Stewart, the Christmas Ham, and Status Quo Bias

Martha Stewart and Her Daughter

Just Because Something Is Old Does Not Mean It Is Right A significant error in thinking comes from people using "It has always been this way" as justification for the state of things.  As if, somehow, precedence confers legitimacy.  Just because something is old does not mean it is right.  Being long-established does not mean optimal performance.  This is a particular problem for larger businesses and institutions, including non-profits. It is a stupid argument.  It should be self-evident to an … [Read more...]