Information (i) meaningfully organized by thinking (t), or 𝕄=i+t
This video provides a great everyday example of how constant and pervasive are our mental models:
Understanding how mental models are used is also important. A concept called the Systems Thinking Loop (or ST Loop) helps us understand that mental models are approximations of some slice of the real world that we need to test to see how accurate they are. Once we test our mental models in the real world, we receive feedback in the form of information, which we can then use to adapt our mental model to become a better model of the real world. Then we can test it again (this is called iteration).
Mental models themselves are made up of the information (i) we get from the real world which is then organized by our thinking (t). Mental models are synonymous with meaning. They are also synonymous with: beliefs, knowledge, ideas, concepts; and mental models can be both conscious and subconscious.
Information is synonymous with data, or content. Alone, information is not meaningful. It get's meaning from the ways that we organize it.
We organize information with our thinking (which is synonymous with cognition, structuring, organizing, encoding, etc.) These three concepts together we call M=i+t.
Because information gets its meaning from the ways that we organize it, it is very important to understand the universal ways that all minds organize information. This is called DSRP which stands for Distinctions, Systems, Relationship, and Perspectives. We all do this kind of thinking every minute of everyday:
But we can get better at thinking by being more aware of how we do it (Metacognition or awareness of DSRP) and by practicing how to do DSRP more effectively. We get started doing this by asking four simple questions...
To go a little deeper...mental models are incredibly important. In fact, they are at the base of four really important learning concepts that drive both individual and organizational behavior.
The book Systems Thinking Made Simple further explores the ideas of the ST Loop, Mental Models, and DSRP. Check it out...