Changing Behavior by Working On Underlying Mental Models

Sustaining change is a key challenge facing managers who are ambitious for fast growth and high performance.  The problem is that people don’t always do what they say and the commitments made can easily fall by the way-side.

The PitStop process has been designed to drive sustainable change.  It does this by engaging and challenging the attitudes and beliefs that shape the behaviors and strategies of managers and their teams.  It works to change the dominant mental models relating to performance and growth within your business.

What is reality, but what we think it is.  Put another way it is our mental models that shape the way that we see the world.  They shape our attitudes & behaviors.  But they may be right or wrong.  We may or may not be seeing the true or full picture.

 

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mental model is: ‘an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world’.

 

what is mental model

 

It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about his or her own acts and their consequences.   This word ‘representation’ is important because it it is merely that – how we subjectively see things.

The bundle of beliefs that construct our mental model, whether it is right or wrong, are often rigid and fixed.  They are often tacit – that is to say they are often understood or implied without being stated.  Indeed they often tend to go unquestioned.   But being resistant to change they can easily get out-of-sync with reality.

 

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In today’s complicated and uncertain environment rigid mental models pose dangers.   They can blind us to; changes in the external environment (such as the changing needs of customers, or the emergence of a new competitor), or to our own performance or potential.

 

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Through our various senses we are bombarded with vast amounts of information about the external world.  Our brains greatest strength is its ability to manage and simplify the information it receives.  But that strength can also be a weakness.

 

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As humans we are prone to simplify even the most complex subjects.  In spite of our management training we look for the easy answers, jump to simplistic conclusions (e.g. A causes B).  We are drawn to the quick fix or magic bullet. But what happens if (as so often is the case) the situation is more complex that we think?

 

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Creative problem solving or any form of innovation requires working on our mental models – holding them up to scrutiny and perhaps smashing them.  It requires looking beyond the obvious, questioning old ways of seeing things, seeing new linkages and inter-relationships. This is at the core of identifying new business models, creating innovative new solutions and serving unmet needs.

Indeed if you want to affect change then you need to work on people’s mental models.  To fundamentally change people’s behaviors you need to change how they see the situation and their relationship to it.

 

change-begins-here

The behaviors and strategies of the business derive from the dominant mental model.  Want something different?  Well, first change the model because when you change the model you change the behaviour.  Doing it the other way round makes change uncertain.
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Business books and courses on sales growth shy away from covering beliefs and models because they can be difficult to measure and manage.  However, they are key to accelerating the growth of any business or team.

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The PitStop actively engages with and challenges the model of business and team performance/growth.  It frames and re-frames the issue to powerful effect.  That is key to its sustained impact on business performance.

 

Buckminster Fuller is quoted as saying that ‘if you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking’. That is the approach adopted by the Strategy Pitstop.  People arrive at new insights and revelations by themselves while working in groups – this is a key power source of every PitStop.