Held Hostage By Old Mental Models

by Jay Deragon on 02/05/2013

mental-models1Some of our prevailing mental models help us make sense of our rapidly changing world.  Others do not; they merely cause us to cling to the familiar models, and that can be dangerous.  In fact a leader’s mental model’s may fail them when they needs to “see beyond” the filters that their mental model may impose. Being held hostage of old mental models is dangerous in a world of emerging new mental models.

Mental models are wonderful because they help us learn how to conform in a democratic society in a positive way. Mental models provide the context for our lives that help us make sense of our reality.

Mental models also have a downside.  They color our understanding of our surroundings.  In fact, many people feel comfortable only within their mental model. A reason it is so difficult to inculcate business models and cultures based on purpose, transparency and co-creation  is that it is a new value rejected by the prevailing (old) mental models.  Just as common wisdom once rejected the mental models created by the internet, past wisdom, often rejects the new mental models of the Social Era.

Held hostage by past business theories, left over industrial era business models and economics driven by tangible results a business becomes capitve by their own mental model.  Many of today’s business leaders are missing the value of new mental models instead they  are holding their organizations, their people and the customers hostage by old mental models based on scarcity rather than abundance. Abundance comes from creating new mental models that see ways to create new value for a marketplace seeking value. Seeing what was previously unseeable requires a new mental model created from information processing and external cognition.

External cognition is that which comes to be known through experiences, perception, intuition and reasoning: knowledge. This thing called social is a lot more than media. Social is the new knowledge channel. But until leaders, managers and their organization unlearn the old mental models of previous era’s they will not be able to comprehend the mental models of the Social Era.

To break out from being held hostage to old mental modles leaders, managers and their organizations have to learn to unlearn so they can learn.



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