Put Mental Models in Conversation with One Another

Mental models are tools that help us more efficiently arrive at decisions: they filter information and give it narrative shape. But they always represent a particular lens. They help make meaning, but meaning comes at the expense of information.

Relying on only one mental model limits our view of the problem space. To overcome this limitation, try to apply multiple mental models to the situation. Select models that are potentially antagonistic with one another and use them to find salience or causal relationships among the data that cannot be anticipated by any model alone.

This can be challenging to accomplish, as we tend to specialize over time, returning to comfortable, reliable tools of thought. Bring in collaborators who can apply different perspectives to help overcome this potential gap.

Roger Martin calls this practice "assertive inquiry."



Martin, Roger L. The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking. 1st edition. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press, 2007.