Train your brain to reign

Photo by Michael Hanson

To sell an idea to stakeholders, buyers and users we not only have to change what they think but how they think. Without the right mental model, they won’t see the problem, understand the benefits or make the choice to change. Mental models are like sorting hats, it’s how our minds make sense of the world around us, the vast amount of information we process and intuitive perception of our actions and their consequences. They filter the signal from the noise.

For example, consider a mental model ‘life’s like chess’. If you believe or have this mental model then you’ll see life as a strategic game with winners and losers following set rules and you may set the goal of winning. But if your mental model is that ‘life’s a beach’ then you may see life as more fun, with no winners and losers and no rules. You may expect forces beyond your control like the waves of the ocean influence you but that you can use them to have fun.

Often dubbed as the “Monaco of the East”, Singapore the red dot has beaten a path to steady economic progress and prosperity since the 1970s. Much of the city’s success can be attributed to the vision of one man, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, who reigned for over thirty years making him the world’s longest serving prime minister in history. He was a man unafraid of challenging the popular ideologies of the day. Right up to the end of his life, Mr Lee Kuan Yew believed in constantly adapting to the changing realities of the world and refreshing his mental map. He sought the views of experts in industry, academia, politics, journalism and the Joe Bloggs. But having listened to and processed their arguments he did not let himself be swayed if he absolutely believed something was in the best long-term interest of Singapore. I was drawn to his vision and chose to move to Singapore to experience the economic miracle, the legacy he’s created. I have seen first hand how one man has changed how people think and as a result transformed Singapore from the ‘third world to the first world in a single generation’.

Innovations that change the world need to be explained before they can be accepted. Brands that are successfully selling their innovations are those that have been able to change how we think, feel and connect with not only their products but ourselves and the world around us.

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