Senge describes mental models as “deeply held internal images of how the world works, images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting. Very often we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they have on our behavior.”
In the team context, shared mental models are useful in creating common ground and shared understanding. We can create shared mental models through experience and practice. For example, if a team is struggling with difficult conversations, you may introduce a model such as Kerry Patterson’s Crucial Conversations, or Kim Scott’s Radical Candor.
The underbelly of mental models is that they provide us with bias and are grounded in possible assumptions, which, if unexplored, may create bias in how we operate and interface with others.
Creating shared mental models within the virtual teams helps people align their approaches consistently. In an environment of the team, this is critical for consistency, especially as people may be part of one or more matrix teams.
For example, Kim Scott’s Radical Candor encourages feedback from a place where you Care Personally and Challenge Directly. Without this type of feedback, you will find yourself providing feedback from a place of Obnoxious Aggression (which might sound like being an A-hole), Ruinous Empathy (which is too kind, stepping over the feedback), or perhaps Manipulative Insincerity (making yourself look good at the expense of others).
Keeping things simple as a virtual team is critical. Part of this is priming people for experiences and creating shared mental models. When we have shared mental models, we have a shared approach, which allows us to create together and move forward together.
Enjoy the conversation,
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