Taken from Getting the Right Things Done by Pascal Dennis , Mental Models are a person’s assumptions about how the world works, based upon their temperament, education, experiences, and perceptions. They are the “glasses” we all wear, which filter and often distort reality. Ultimately, they are important because they affect what we see and what we do.
Mental Models are a Person’s Assumptions About How the World Works.. They Affect What We See and What We Do.
The reason why Mental Models play an important role in your LEAN implementation and application efforts for achieving your desired results, is because you need to understand from where the mindset and attitudes of your team members originates. What Mental Models are they operating with? And how is that influencing what they see and what they do? – This in turn, will directly impact what results you are able or not able to achieve!
Therefore, Management Teams, Senior Leaders, Sensei Leaders, and LEAN Practioners (whether formal or informal) will need to continually reinforce the correct Mental Models. Doing this will require you to first identify what the Mental Models are, and then second, establish the expectations for what Mental Models should be utilized and applied.
References, and Links to Further Explanations
- Mental Models adapted from Getting the Right Things Done by Pascal Dennis, Lean Enterprise Institute 2006.
Helpful Hints in Understanding Mental Models
One of the primary reasons we have created Our Paradigms and Defining the Fundamentals of LEAN topics is a direct result of understanding the need to clarify Mental Models. Therefore, the primary purpose of these topics and their respective elements is to clarify the meaning and underlying themes of these common business and management practices, but more so as they relate to the LEAN principles and concepts.
More importantly, this has a direct impact on your LEAN implementation and application because we will build a common understanding together and start utilizing the same language. This allows our communication, trainings, instructions, coaching, etc. to be more effective and efficient, which will ultimately drive you to achieve your desired results!
Insight from a Master Sensei
I always ask the question of the Five (5) Whys , not only for myself, but also to challenge the thinking and mindset of the person who is telling me what they are doing in looking for answers and solutions. In my method of coaching , I do not provide them with answers because I want them to create their own ability think critically and develop their mindset for doing the right thing in the right situation.
Therefore, I will ask them if they focused on the Inside-Out Approach  to go narrow and deep, or did they stay shallow? Did they Seek the Value-Added , or select what was quick and easy? Was there consideration in selecting the Pilot Area , or did they choose any area? Did they have criteria for putting together a Core Team , or did anyone do? Have they Applied the PDCA Cycle  along every step of the process, and with repeating the cycles in quick successive cycles? Have they applied jishuken  in what they are doing, as well as for the involved team members… and are they coaching others through the process?
This may frustrate many team members, but it is because they do not have the right Mental Models to draw upon. So, they have many scattered ideas that are floating in their head and are not connected in any way. This is where coaching becomes critical in developing their mindset to think clearly with the right Mental Models that comprise of the LEAN philosophies and concepts. This means enabling them to understand their efforts in applying a balanced approach , with structure , in a systematic way , from a holistic approach , in a step-by-step  manner.
References, and Links to Further Explanations
- Learn more about the Five Whys, from Wikipedia.
- Coaching is one of the Secondary Elements of Our Paradigms: Coaching.
- Inside-Out Approach is one of the Primary Elements of Our Paradigms: Inside-Out Approach.
- Seek the Value-Added is one of the Primary Elements of Our Paradigms: Seek the Value-Added.
- Pilot Area is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Pilot Area.
- Core Team is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Core Team.
- Application of the PDCA Cycle is one of the Primary Elements of Our Paradigms: Application of the PDCA Cycle. Learn more about Toyota’s Iteration of the PDCA Cycle Training.
- Jishuken is also one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Jishuken, Learn by Doing.
- Balanced Approach is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Balanced Approach.
- Structure is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Structure.
- Systematic Way is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Systematic.
- Holistic Approach is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Holistic.
- Step-by-Step Manner is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Step-by-Step.