Mental Models for Product Managers – fundamental tools for creating impact
Mental models are like tools in a toolbox. If you have only a few tools, you can only solve a few kinds of problems. Like the famous saying – If you only have a hammer, then you have to treat every problem as a nail. If you have a full toolbox you have a lot more flexibility and subtlety about how you can go after problems. And tools that aren’t quite up to the job is almost as bad as not having the right tools. You can’t fix a sink if you don’t have some plumbing tools.
What is a mental model?
“Any concept that helps explain, analyze, or navigate the world.”
I’d also add, specifically
- That helps you make better decisions
- That guides you on how to take better actions
We have some great mental models in product management. But we have not been doing a great job of using them to help us make better products. While I think a lot of us have intuitive ideas about “how to think about” product management, my observation is that these mental models are not as widely used as they should be.
- Charlie Munger’s talk at USC Business School in 1994, where he talks about the “latticework” of mental models he and Warren Buffet use to make good investment decisions.
- Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful by Gabriel Weinberg.
- A list of cognitive biases.
- Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm where I got my version of the value proposition. I’ve written about value propositions at greater length in A Weak Value Proposition Is A Symptom, Not A Disease.
- Doug Hall’s Three Laws of Marketing Physics are from his excellent book Jumpstart Your Business Brain!
- My V.A.L.U.A.B.L.E. rubric for product requirements. I have a podcast episode all about it.
- Chip and Dan Heath’s book Decisive will help you make better decisions. The book is a great and entertaining read.
- My article 5 tips for when your release is running late, where I illustrate the 10/10/10 rule from Decisive.
My product manager meetup
- If you’d like to get on the notification list for my free weekly product manager meetup, go to https://secretsofpm.com/meetup.
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