Yos Riady software craftsman 🚀

Mental Models

This page collates the mental models that I’ve repeatedly found useful in my day-to-day decision making.

  • Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by carelessness.
  • Shaping the Environment: Make it easy for people to do the right things; make it difficult for people to do the wrong things.
  • Small Improvements: Frequently making small incremental improvements is a better approach than attempting to fix big looming problems once.
  • Incentives: Something that motivates an individual to perform an action. All creatures respond to incentives.
  • Trust: Fundamentally, the modern world operates on trust.
  • Cost Benefit Analysis: Prioritize things that cost little but has high impact.
  • Pareto Principle: For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The last 20% takes 80% of the time.
  • Business Case: Captures the reasoning for initiating a project or task. “Why this now?”
  • Divide and Conquer: Anything is possible, doing so is just a process of reduction. Wiggins’ Law: If it’s hard, cut scope.
  • Leverage: With a small amount of input force at the right place, we can make a great output through leverage.
  • Bias for Action: The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
  • Inertia: The tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity.
  • Activation Energy: Certain chemical reactions require the input of a critical level of activation energy via catalysts to get started.
  • Emergence: Whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.
  • First-Conclusion Bias: Our tendency to settle on first conclusions leads us to accept many erroneous results and cease asking questions. Generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.
  • Pygmalion Effect: The phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to an increase in performance.
  • Growth Mindset: Those with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe that abilities are mostly innate and interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, while those with a ‘growth mindset’ believe that they can acquire any given ability provided they invest effort or study.
  • The Feynman Technique: Teaching a topic to someone else is an excellent way to learn.
  • Narrative Instinct: Long before humans developed the ability to write or to create objects, we were telling stories and thinking in stories.
  • Circle of Competence: Each individual tends to have core competencies for which they really know their stuff. Take care when making decisions outside of that circle.
  • Opportunity Costs: The ‘cost’ incurred by not enjoying the benefit that would have been had by taking the second best available choice We live in a world of trade-offs.
  • Sunk Cost: A cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.
  • Comparative Advantage: Two individuals, firms, or countries could benefit from trading with one another even if one of them was better at everything.
  • Law of Diminishing Returns: Most things are subject to an eventual decrease of incremental value.
  • Make it real: Ideas are cheap. Make a prototype, sketch a CLI session, draw a wireframe, provide a URL.
  • Minimum Viable Product: A product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.
  • Ship it: Nothing is real until it’s being used by a real user. Find one person you believe your product will help and try to get them to use it.
  • Product / Market Fit: The degree to which a product satisfies a strong market demand.
  • Ignore the competition: Except to borrow good ideas.
  • Deliberate Practice: How expert one becomes at a skill has more to do with how one practices than with merely performing a skill a large number of times.
  • Strong opinions, weakly held: Have a strong opinion and argue passionately for it. But when you encounter new information, be willing to change your mind.
  • The Map is not the Territory: There will always be an imperfect relationship between reality and the models we use to represent and understand it.