In this episode of The Universal Man podcast, Grego and Pricey cover the frameworks and mental models that they use to enable positive, quick and proactive decision-making that can reduce risk and friction in your life.
In this episode we talk about:
What the elite chiefs and leaders have that enable them to make really good decisions with clarity and good judgement;
Some examples of frameworks and models that exist all around us all day;
How you can take existing frameworks and models and adapt them to your needs;
Reverse-engineering the process and identifying gaps in your existing frameworks.
“Models and frameworks reduce risk, because the right mental models normally consider all the aspects of a complex environment and categorise them and make it simple too.”
What is the defining trait that elevates people above anything else?
The one thing that really sticks out for me is that they are incredible decision-makers with great judgement. They have incredibly good mental models or frameworks in the back of their head. If there’s three projects in front of them and they need to make a decision about which one to go for, these people invariably pick the right one.
Or they walk into a room and can just get to the heart of an issue so quickly it’s not funny, with a customer or internally. Or they’ve got a difficult relationship with a peer and somehow they can work out what the hell is wrong and fix it quickly. At the heart of all of this is their ability to diagnose what is happening, work out the priority and the treatment, and then to treat.
What are mental models?
A mental model is a way of organising the world in the back of your head. It might be a three-step process, or it might be a diagnosis system, but they develop mental models for everything. They’re just incredible systems thinkers.
The best CEOs I’ve met had those frameworks and those models, some of them completely unconscious, some of them very conscious and they play those in meetings constantly.
What is an example of a mental model?
Any process or framework or system has core elements. For example, I promote a team-building model (High Performance Teams) that talks about Mission, People, Culture, Tools and Execution.
Under each of those pillars is a bit of a journey from being really sick, to really shooting the lights out. So, I might go into a team and say, “Okay, is your mission, which might be vision, values, purpose, strategy and goals, is it sick, is it okay or is it really good?”
You could also do a project health check – red, amber, green against each task and that gives you an overall health check.
How do I use frameworks and mental models?
When I’m tired or I’m not in a very good space, that’s when the frameworks do their best, best work. It saves me energy, it saves me time. I don’t have to overthink it, I can go back to a tried and tested way, and as a result, you can stand up under pressure.
Frameworks and mental models turn really complex topics into simple ones. But it’s got to suit your style and your personality. What works for someone else may not work for you, so you’ve got to spend a bit of time looking around, searching and then attempting different things. And when you get a framework or a mental model that works for you, run with it.
Once you learn a model, go and write it down and draw it on a page using your own pen and get the kinesthetic feel, make notes about it. Change a letter, change a step if you need to, make it your own by adjusting the context. No model is going to fit everyone in order for me to engage with it, I might need to tweak a little bit of it.
The other real benefit of frameworks and mental models is that they allow you to make decisions rapidly with accuracy, especially when the risk is high. When you consider the best decision-makers in elite sport, you think to yourself, “Wow, they didn’t have time to sit down and do all this thinking and analyse, they just did it.”
You can reduce risk then and you end up making smarter decisions, because you’re considering all areas and it’s less risky. If you could go through life making smarter, less risky decisions that keep you in flow in the moment, it’s no wonder these people who have done more than everyone else are more successful.
A little activity that might be worthwhile is for you to ask, “What are the core frameworks I actually use unconsciously or consciously? Where are the gaps? Where is something that I’m trying to be better at, that I constantly flounder in?” What process or framework and model am I using?” And I guarantee there’s probably one missing or only half-baked.