Peter Hollins - Mental Models

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  1. Address "Important"; Ignore "Urgent" to separate priorities from impostors
  2. Visualize All the Dominoes to make decisions as informed as possible
  3. Make Reversible Decisions to remove indecisions and have a bias to action
  4. Seek "Satisfiction" to achieve your priorities and ignore what doesn't matter
  5. Stay within 40% - 70% to balance information with action
  6. Minimize Regret by consulting the future you on decisions
  7. Ignore "Black Swans" to understand how outliers shouldn't change your thinking
  8. Look for Equilibrium Points to find real patterns in data and not be fooled
  9. Wait for the Regression to the Mean to find real patterns in data and not be fooled
  10. What Would Bayes Do to calculate probabilities and predict the future based on real events
  11. Do It Like Darwin to seek real, honest truth in a situation
  12. Think With System 2 to think analytically instead of emotionally
  13. Peer Review Your Perspectives to understand the consensus view and why you might differ
  14. Find Your Own Flaws to scrutinize yourself before others can
  15. Separate Correlation From Causation to understand what truly needs to be addressed to solve a problem

Decision Making For Speed And Context

To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

A mental model is a blueprint to emphasize important aspects of whatever you're facing, and it defines context, background and direction.

Without them, you are only able to see the haphazard, individual elements with no connection to each other.

A chef is someone who has the mental models of flavor profiles, what basic ingredients are needed for a stock or a sauce, typical techniques for different meats, and the conventional beverage and food pairings.

You can think of mental models as life heuristics or guidelines to evaluate and comprehend.

Mental models aren't perfect representations of the world around us, they serve to separate the signal from the noise for a specific perspective.

Too few mental models limit your capability to comprehend.


MM #2: Visualize All the Dominoes to make decisions as informed as possible

Unintended consequences matter!

Humans naturally apply first order thinking โ†’ visualizing only the immediate consequence, they do not think much ahead.

What we should do is try and project into the future and extrapolate a range of consequences to use to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for your decisions or solutions.

Imagine a public newspaper contest showing pictures of 100 cats, and asking the readers to rank them by cuteness. The readers that ranked the top 6 cats would get the prize.

  1. First order thinking: rank the cats by your own perception of their cuteness
  2. Second order thinking: rank the cats by what you think the average perception of their cuteness is
  3. Third order thinking: rank the cats by what what you think the average person thinks the average perception of their cuteness is

in other words:

  1. First order thinking: your own opinion
  2. Second order thinking: your perception of average opinion
  3. Third order thinking: your perception of average perception of average opinion

Second-order thinking allows you to project the totality of your decisions. To think in second-order fashion, ask yourself:

Think beyond simple resolution of most immediate problem. What effect will it have if this succeeds or fails? What do semi-success and semi-failure look like?

Is your prediction realistic or steeped in fantasy or paranoia?

Ask friends for an honest opinion if you're not completely off track. A complete lack of reality usually works alone.

What are the prime splitting points between what you think and what popular knowledge and opinion dictates? Why? Could you be missing something?

Step out of your own biased perspective and view decisions as other people. Actively articulate the domino chain that other people might see.

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