The Power of Impossible Thinking by Yoram (Jerry) Wind and Colin Crook is subtitled Transform the business of your life and the life of your business. As it turns out, entrepreneurship involves both! The authors explain how your mental models stand between you and reality, distorting all your perceptions … and how they create both limits and opportunities. Here is what the authors have to say:
We use the phrase mental models (or mindsets) to describe the brain processes we use to make sense of our world…The ways we make sense of our world are determined to a large extent by our internal mind and to a lesser extent by the external world. The model inside our brain is our representation of our world and ourselves.
Mental models are broader than technological innovations or business models…[They] represent the way we look at the world…Our mental models are often so deep that they are invisible.
Constant training shapes and refines our models. A number of forces of nurture shape and reshape our mental models, including education, training, influence of others, rewards and incentives, and personal experience. We also develop capabilities for learning how to learn that help us make sense of our experiences.
At any given point, we have a choice in how we view the world. But we are not aware of these choices…In a changing environment, we can either transform ourselves or we transformed. Every day individuals in their work and personal lives prove that it is possible to change before life itself gives them a painful wakeup call. Our mental models determine what we are able to see and do.
More than specific ideas, it is mental models that we need to develop. Another book, Seeing What’s Next by Clay Christensen, Scott Anthony and Erik Roth, provides insights on using theories of innovation to predict industry change. The books builds on Christensen’s previous two books ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution. Using case studies from telecom, education, aviation, semiconductors and healthcare, the authors argue that even those without proprietary information can use these theories to develop powerful insights into how the future will unfold in a given industry and to make wiser choices based on those insights.
The authors write about the importance of theory: The only way to look into the future is to use [the right] theories, because conclusive data is only available about the past…The best way to make accurate sense of the present, and the best way to look into the future, is through the lens of theory. Good theory provides a robust way to understand important developments, even when data is limited. And theory is even more helpful when there is an abundance of data. This is the critical challenge of the Information Age. With more information, it is harder to discern what information really matters. Theory helps block out the noise to amplify the signal…Using theory allows us to see the future more clearly and act more confidently to shape our destiny.
Read the two books together. Answer the questions that the authors ask. Start building models and maps about the industry in which we want to operate in. And then follow Alan Kay’s advice: The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
Tomorrow: Next Steps