What are Mental models, and why are they useful for a Product Manager?

A mental model is a representation of how something works for a person in their particular situation. Mental models, like thoughts, take on various shapes in various settings, based on the person’s understanding of the world.

Our thought processes and how we interpret and understand things are influenced by mental models. They are mental tools that aid in the assimilation of information, the construction of associations, and hence the ‘judgment’ of opportunities. As a result, mental models assist us in breaking down complex entities into manageable parts. As a result, mental models substantially aid in the difficult task of decision-making.

Mental models are similar to the tools found in a toolbox. So, depending on your requirements, you select the tool that will help you achieve your goal efficiently and quickly. However, in order to be efficient, one must be aware of the tools accessible and adept in their use.

For a product manager, they can help in two ways

Decision making: Mental models that can help make decision-making are the Eisenhower Decision Matrix and the Law of inversion.

Understanding your team: Mental models can aid in the comprehension of people, their motivations, capabilities, and performance. Mental models like perverse incentive and EQ measuring models can help you understand the team better.