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  • Writer's pictureNigel Rushman

Integrating mental models into your daily work

Integrating mental models into the daily work of a senior manager or director, especially in the context of decision-making, involves adopting frameworks that simplify complex situations and improve the quality of decisions.

Here are some ways to incorporate mental models into decision-making processes:

Creative Mindset

Encourage a creative mindset by challenging yourself and your team to think outside the box. This involves considering unconventional solutions and perspectives when faced with problems. For instance, if sales are declining, instead of just cutting costs, consider exploring new markets or innovating product designs.

Principle of Alignment

Ensure that your decisions align with the company's values and long-term goals. This principle helps in maintaining consistency and coherence in decision-making, which is crucial for senior managers and directors.


Be aware of the paradox of choice, where too many options can lead to decision paralysis. To combat this, limit the choices to a manageable number, ensuring that each option is distinct and valuable.

Lateral Thinking

Adopt lateral thinking to break free from traditional patterns and generate creative solutions. This mental model encourages looking at problems from different angles, which can lead to unique insights and solutions.

Input Goals

Set input goals that focus on the actions you can control rather than just the outcomes. This helps in creating a process-oriented approach to decision-making, which can lead to more consistent and high-quality results.

Information Arbitrage

Use information arbitrage to your advantage by seeking out and utilising information that others may not have. This can provide a competitive edge in decision-making.

First Principles Thinking

Break down complex problems into their fundamental parts and rebuild them from the ground up. This approach helps in understanding the core issues and finding innovative solutions.

Circle of Competence

Understand and respect the limits of your expertise. Focus on areas where you have the most knowledge and experience, and seek advice or delegate tasks that fall outside your circle of competence.

Regret Minimisation

Project your decisions into the future and consider how they will affect you in the long term. This framework, developed by Jeff Bezos, helps in making decisions that you are less likely to regret later on.


Instead of just looking for ways to achieve a goal, consider the opposite: identify how you could fail and work to avoid those pitfalls. This mental model helps in anticipating challenges and planning accordingly.

Practical Application

  • Awareness: Regularly reflect on your decision-making process and question your assumptions

  • Information Gathering: Collect relevant data and challenge your thinking with facts

  • Practice: Apply different mental models to various situations to become more proficient in their use

  • Combination: Use multiple mental models in tandem to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the situation

By integrating these mental models into your daily work, you can enhance your decision-making skills, leading to better outcomes for your team and organisation. Remember that no single mental model is universally applicable, so it's important to develop a diverse mental model toolbox and apply the right model to the right situation

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