Refresh Your Mental Model

Colin Crook, former chief technology officer of Citicorp., is a senior advisor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of The Power of Impossible Thinking with Wharton Professor Yoram "Jerry" Wind. The book explains how you can keep your mental models fresh and make better sense of the world. In this interview excerpt, Crook explains how to switch your mental model.

  1. Become more aware of why you make sense of the world the way you do. Who were your mentors?
  2. Become more aware of what is going on around you and what the evidence is telling you.
  3. Hang out with new folks, but not just any folks. Find people relevant to your role who can expand your view.
  4. Be aware of how your model acts as a barrier. "Roger Bannister [ran] a four-minute mile in 1954. People had regarded it as some physiological barrier. He broke it. Within a space of 18 months, 16 other people did it. What the hell happened? This barrier had now been removed. It was self-imposed."
  5. Look for boundary spanners. These are people who can work between communities that see the world differently, and can explain it. Facilitators, enablers, writers are good at doing this.

This was first published in August 2005

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