Mind Hacks 1 -Mental Models and Recognition-Primed Decisions
Much of good strategy relies upon mental models of reality. As we think through our expectations resulting from any strategic move, we are running through a mental simulation of the world. It is important to remember that we make strategic moves, not because we expect that move to go unchallenged, but instead to elicit certain responses from others. Our mental simulations allow us to think through possible responses and counter responses. The models we use must have moving parts and rules so that we can see how conditions tend to evolve. The evidence from history and modern science indicates that these mental simulations are indispensable for making good decisions. By using these mental models we are able to find order in what initially appears to be chaos.
However, we do not have to think through every situation to know the best response. To deal with more specific situations, strategic skills require methods called recognition-primed decision-making. These methods of dealing with challenges explains the difference between experts and novices. It is said, “The wise man does at once what a fool does at last.” Experienced people have seen many situations before and instantly know their best proven responses. Novices, lacking this recognition, must work on different approaches, relying upon trial and error to discover what works and what doesn’t.
In this article, we will look at what modern science tells us about the use of mental models, when they succeed, and why they fail. We will also look at the areas of practical strategy that can be better described as recognition-primed decision-making, the problems with learning them, and the ways we speed our mastery of them.
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