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Examples of models: how a slight change in your model can create big changes in behavior

posted by Joshua on January 2, 2012 in Awareness, Blog, Evolutionary Psychology, Nature
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[This post is part of a series on The Model — my model for the human emotional system designed for use in leadership, self-awareness, and general purpose professional and personal development — which I find the most effective and valuable foundation for understanding yourself and others and improving your life. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

A famous parable in business literature describes how two competing shoe companies considering expanding into a new market each sent a salesperson to research the market to figure out if they should enter it and how.

The first, upon arriving, found that in this market, nobody wore shoes. They had some custom to walk barefoot everywhere. The salesperson concluded the market not worth entering since nobody wanted shoes.

We could illustrate the belief like this.

Mental model: no shoes, no marketThe second salesperson saw the same people in the same market. Despite the same data, this person saw every shoe-less person as someone who could use shoes and evidence of no competition, yielding the opposite strategy.

Mental model: no shoes, huge marketWhich shoe company do you think entered the market and do you think it profited?

Data and information alone has no meaning. The beliefs we attach or evaluate with give them meaning. This case illustrates how a slight change in belief can lead to dramatically different behavior.

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