managemnet company management Learning to Manage the Map Paradox

Learning to Manage the Map Paradox

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Learn to Manage the Map Paradox

Map Paradox

wEVERYONE HAS mental maps that we use to interpret the world as we experience it. They also provide guidance for our actions.

But here’s the thing. These mental maps are based on yesterday. Donald Sull calls it that Map Paradox. on The Height of Turbulence, he wrote, “In a chaotic world, people have to make long-term commitments based on a mental map that they know is flawed. The paradox arises in any situation where progress requires long-term commitments from many people and adaptation to changing circumstances.

All mental maps are static representations of a changing situation, simplifying a complex world made without the benefit of knowledge that will only arise in the future. They remain always and everywhere provisional, subject to revision or rejection due to new information. The paradox of the map requires a delicate balance between commitment and change, stability and flexibility. Striking the balance is difficult, but possible.

Of course, mind maps come in all varieties. There are mental maps based on values ​​that anchor us regardless of the circumstances that present us. We all have personal mental maps based on the interpretation of our life experiences so far. These types of maps are constantly subject to change as we grow, understand better, and gain new perspectives. All mental models are working hypotheses.

Whether your mental maps are clear or vague, they all perform three specific functions: “They highlight important categories, explain relationships among variables, and suggest appropriate action.” Mental maps create biases. As we carry our maps into the future—especially an uncertain future (as most futures are)—they can change when examined in the light of tomorrow’s reality. Our working hypotheses “provide imperfect representations of a complex and fluid world.”

The best way to avoid the Map Paradox is to continually pit your mental model against models that VARIETY from yours. Look for clues on what to do not support your worldview. Consider a revolution in thought instead of just rationalizing the contradictions you find.

Entrepreneurs often find themselves in the Map Paradox because once they create a mental model around their idea, they look for supporting information and fall victim to what they don’t know. “A systematic study of three hundred start-ups found that sticking to the initial business plan was the best predictor of failure one year after founding—nine out of ten entrepreneurs stayed their first business plan without change failed.”

Mental models are an essential part of who we are. They help us function efficiently in life, but we must learn to manage them so that they do not derail us from the reality of changing circumstances.


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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:39 AM

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