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Change Your “Mental Models” to Better Solve Problems

Person thinking through different problems with his mental model. Everyone has different NEW “MENTAL MODELS” FOR PROBLEM SOLVING

Our new Marketing Assistant, Lauren Cary, came across this excellent article about the need to shift your mental models, and she wrote most of the blog too.

The article, which I highly recommend, is called “Mental Models: How to Train Your Brain to Think In New Ways,” and it can be found here.

Everyone has different “mental models” depending on their upbringing, education, interests, passions, etc.

While we all have dominant mental models, they often tend to be our downfall b/c they only allow us to view problems from one specific viewpoint.


As examples, the author provides the below responses to the question: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

• If you ask an evolutionary biologist, she might say, “The chicken crossed the road because they saw a potential mate on the other side.”

• If you ask a kinesiologist, she might say, “The chicken crossed the road because the muscles in the leg contracted and pulled the leg bone forward during each step.”

• If you ask a neuroscientist, she might say, “The chicken crossed the road because the neurons in the chicken’s brain fired and triggered the movement.”

• If you ask a JVM team member, she might say: “The chicken crossed the road b/c she felt emotionally safe, her boss encouraged her to take risks, and she heard there was kombucha and avocado toast on the other side.” (note: this last example was not actually in the article 😊)

This is why it is so important to train yourself to think through a variety of mental models. It will allow you to discover new ways of solving problems, rather than defaulting to the thought process that you are familiar with.

At JVM we hire people from many different backgrounds, experience levels, and disciplines for this very reason. We want to hire people with different mental models, so we can learn from one another’s different thought processes.

We never want our employees to get sucked into a single way of thinking, which is why we also often encourage our employees to take up new positions and responsibilities (because they may view the process through a different mental model and therefore see different ways of improvement).

We also make it explicit in our onboarding training that all new employees should feel encouraged to speak out about any improvements or recommendations they have. This is because new employees often have a different viewpoint about the business than veterans. I might finally add that we strongly encourage reading and education outside the mortgage realm and our JVM Book and Podcast Club is a perfect example.

In any case, if you or your business are facing seemingly insurmountable problems, we strongly recommend cultivating skills or knowledge completely outside your field, or hiring someone with a perspective totally unrelated to your own.

Jay Voorhees
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
(855) 855-4491 | DRE# 1197176, NMLS# 310167