Mental Models – Discussion
Senge et al. (1994) described Mental Models as “images, assumptions, and stories which we carry in our minds of ourselves, other people, institutions, and every aspect of the world” (p. 235). They limit the growth of individuals and organizations. This happens because “new insights fail to get put into practice because they conflict with deeply held internal images of how the world works, images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting” (Senge, p. 163). They determine how people make sense of the world and how they take action (Senge, 2006) because they affect what they “see”, which is why “two people with different mental models…observe the same event and describe it differently” (Senge, p. 164). Effectively, people will focus on different details and make different interpretations from the same event. The discussion then becomes how do people change, or learn new, Mental Models in a learning organization so that new ideas are shared and considered freely.
1) Read the journal, “Changing Mental Models: Business Simulation Exercise” by Scherpereel (2005) and answer the question below.
- Can Mental Models within a team or organization be altered through simulation practice? If so, do you believe that after the practice most team members’ decisions will be similar within a work context?
- Have you witnessed team simulations which have altered Mental Models in the past? If so, were they effective?
2) From Scherpereel’s (2005) research, we learned that organizational change is possible using business simulations that induce change in participants’ Mental Models. The Mental Model principle, the Ladder of Inference, maps the steps our thinking process follows to go from an observable experience to an action (Senge et al., 1994). After watching the TED-Ed video called “Rethinking Thinking”, found in the reference list, answer the following question.
- You’ve decided to use the Ladder of Inference in a simulation with your team. What organizational experience would you use to show them how individual or group actions are affected by their beliefs?