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Tom Connor

Tom Connor

Tom Connor

Tom Connor

2 months ago

12 mental models that I use frequently

https://tomconnor.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/10x-Engineer-Mental-Models.pdf

https://tomconnor.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/10x-Engineer-Mental-Models.pdf

I keep returning to the same mental models and tricks after writing and reading about a wide range of topics.

Top 12 mental models

12.

Survival bias - We perceive the surviving population as remarkable, yet they may have gotten there through sheer grit.

Survivorship bias affects us in many situations. Our retirement fund; the unicorn business; the winning team. We often study and imitate the last one standing. This can lead to genuine insights and performance improvements, but it can also lead us astray because the leader may just be lucky.

Bullet hole density of returning planes — A strike anywhere else was fatal…

11.

The Helsinki Bus Theory - How to persevere Buss up!

Always display new work, and always be compared to others. Why? Easy. Keep riding. Stay on the fucking bus.

10.

Until it sticks… Turning up every day… — Artists teach engineers plenty. Quality work over a career comes from showing up every day and starting.

Austin Kleon

9.

WRAP decision making process (Heath Brothers)

Decision-making WRAP Model:

W — Widen your Options

R — Reality test your assumptions

A — Attain Distance

P — Prepare to be wrong or Right

8.

Systems for knowledge worker excellence - Todd Henry and Cal Newport write about techniques knowledge workers can employ to build a creative rhythm and do better work.

Todd Henry's FRESH framework:

  1. Focus: Keep the start in mind as you wrap up.

  2. Relationships: close a loop that's open.

  3. Pruning is an energy.

  4. Set aside time to be inspired by stimuli.

  5. Hours: Spend time thinking.

7.

Black Box Thinking…..

BBT is learning from mistakes. Science has transformed the world because it constantly updates its theories in light of failures. Complexity guarantees failure. Do we learn or self-justify?

6.

The OODA Loop - Competitive advantage

OODA LOOP

O: Observe: collect the data. Figure out exactly where you are, what’s happening.

O: Orient: analyze/synthesize the data to form an accurate picture.

D: Decide: select an action from possible options

A: Action: execute the action, and return to step (1)

Boyd's approach indicates that speed and agility are about information processing, not physical reactions. They form feedback loops. More OODA loops improve speed.

5.

Know your Domain 

Leaders who try to impose order in a complex situation fail; those who set the stage, step back, and allow patterns to develop win.

https://vimeo.com/640941172?embedded=true&source=vimeo_logo&owner=11999906

4.

The Three Critical Gaps

  • Information Gap - The discrepancy between what we know and what we would like to know

  • Gap in Alignment - What individuals actually do as opposed to what we wish them to do

  • Effects Gap - the discrepancy between our expectations and the results of our actions

Adapted from Stephen Bungay

3.

Theory of Constraints — The Goal  - To maximize system production, maximize bottleneck throughput.

  • Goldratt creates a five-step procedure:

  1. Determine the restriction

  2. Improve the restriction.

  3. Everything else should be based on the limitation.

  4. Increase the restriction

  5. Go back to step 1 Avoid letting inertia become a limitation.

Any non-constraint improvement is an illusion.

2.

Serendipity and the Adjacent Possible - Why do several amazing ideas emerge at once? How can you foster serendipity in your work?

You need specialized abilities to reach to the edge of possibilities, where you can pursue exciting tasks that will change the world. Few people do it since it takes a lot of hard work. You'll stand out if you do.

Most people simply lack the comfort with discomfort required to tackle really hard things. At some point, in other words, there’s no way getting around the necessity to clear your calendar, shut down your phone, and spend several hard days trying to make sense of the damn proof.

1.

Boundaries of failure - Rasmussen's accident model.

Rasmussen’s System Model

Rasmussen modeled this. It has economic, workload, and performance boundaries.

The economic boundary is a company's profit zone. If the lights are on, you're within the economic boundaries, but there's pressure to cut costs and do more.

Performance limit reflects system capacity. Taking shortcuts is a human desire to minimize work. This is often necessary to survive because there's always more labor.

Both push operating points toward acceptable performance. Personal or process safety, or equipment performance.

If you exceed acceptable performance, you'll push back, typically forcefully.