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How to improve and speed up your decision making process

Opinions expressed by australiabusinessblog.com contributors are their own.

As a leader in your organization, you might as well be called “lead problem solver.” But if you’re like most leaders, you might feel:

  1. The problems never end.

  2. The challenges are getting more and more complex.

  3. You have less time to take a step back to think clearly and strategically about solutions.

This can be especially the case with non-profit organizations trying to solve complex problems with limited resources. Whether your mission is to tackle poverty, homelessness, health care, racism, justice… these are huge problems that stem from systemic problems. And the last thing you need is for your team to just go through the motion of working to do something.

No, you want your team to really make a difference. And the world is counting on it. But to come up with innovative, sustainable solutions for systemic issues, you have to think differently. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite hacks to solve complex problems and make better decisions faster.

Related: What Savvy Entrepreneurs Know About Problem Solving

How mental models train you to think strategically

Mental models are tools that can help you distance yourself from a problem, look at it from a different perspective and discover innovative solutions. They provide unique thought processes that you can use to explore and understand challenges. Let’s look at some well-known examples of mental models:

  • Newton’s laws of motion: Something in motion can only be stopped by an outside force.

  • Occam’s Razor: The simplest solution is almost always the best solution.

  • Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong … will go wrong

Most likely you have applied these in your own life and work to help you understand a situation and arrive at a solution. Such mental models act as thinking hacks and shortcuts. They are great for reducing complexities, which is exactly what you need when you feel the burden of solving a challenge.

But a single mental model does not work in all cases. For example, Newton’s laws of motion do not hold when working at very high speeds or in a very strong gravitational field. That’s why the best leaders fill their toolbox with mental models. They strive to internalize and practice different models, learning them well so that they build a comprehensive set of options to choose from to use in the right context for the right situation.

James Clear, the author of the #1 NYT bestseller Atomic habits, writesTo put it simply, mental models are the set of tools you use to think. Each mental model provides a different framework that you can use to look at life (or at an individual problem). … If you have a larger toolbox of mental models, you’ll improve your ability to solve problems because you’ll have more options for arriving at the right answer. This is one of the main ways that truly brilliant people stand out from the crowd of smart individuals out there.”

Related: 7 Methods to Maximize Your Decision Making

Our favorite mental models for quick fixes

How many mental models do you actively apply to the challenges your organization faces? The more you add to your toolbox, the more you can use to find better, more innovative solutions – and faster. Here are a few of the mental models we repeatedly find useful at Historic:

Marquee Culture:

We look at our clients’ brands through the lens of Marquee Culture, which identifies six different layers of organizational culture.

By understanding culture through the layers of Marquee Culture, we help leaders not only gain a deep understanding of their organization’s brand issues, but also find brilliant solutions that make an immediate positive impact at every level of their operations.

The result is greater customer satisfaction, better product delivery, higher employee retention and much more.

Think differently:

Innovation requires us to think out-of-the-box.

Nothing has helped us do that faster and more efficiently than divergent thinking, a suite of tools designed to push teams outside of their normal mindsets.

Instead of spinning our wheels in a conventional brainstorming session, we use divergent thinking tools and prompts to accelerate our creative thinking.

Apply interdisciplinary mental models

Different industries and fields of expertise also offer rich mental models that you can apply to your organization. After all, the best ideas often arise when they are informed by other disciplines.

Take this mental model from Formula 1: If you want to move faster, decrease the resistance or increase the gear.

Do any of the following to increase speed and help your team go faster:

  1. Look for the cause of the resistance and reduce it.

  2. Put more resources behind something to increase acceleration.

To delve deeper into this mental model, read Formula X, a business myth about organizational acceleration. I strongly recommend it.

Related: The Need for Speed: How Fast Decision Making Reduces Risk and Creates Growth

As a leader, you always have multiple problems vying for your attention and asking for solutions. But with a toolbox full of mental models that help you gain perspective and reduce complexity, you can solve any problems better and faster. Don’t worry… if you find yourself in the weeds with a particularly challenging problem, drop a line. We’ll help you kick start the process of finding exactly the right solution you’re looking for.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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