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Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models

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A Wall Street Journal Bestseller! "You can't really know anything if you just remember isolated facts. If the facts don't hang together on a latticework of theory, you don't have them in a usable form. You've got to have models in your head." - Charlie Munger, investor, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway The world's greatest problem-solvers, forecasters, and decision-makers A Wall Street Journal Bestseller! "You can't really know anything if you just remember isolated facts. If the facts don't hang together on a latticework of theory, you don't have them in a usable form. You've got to have models in your head." - Charlie Munger, investor, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway The world's greatest problem-solvers, forecasters, and decision-makers all rely on a set of frameworks and shortcuts that help them cut through complexity and separate good ideas from bad ones. They're called mental models, and you can find them in dense textbooks on psychology, physics, economics, and more. Or, you can just read Super Thinking, a fun, illustrated guide to every mental model you could possibly need. How can mental models help you? Well, here are just a few examples... • If you've ever been overwhelmed by a to-do list that's grown too long, maybe you need the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to help you prioritize. • Use the 5 Whys model to better understand people's motivations or get to the root cause of a problem. • Before concluding that your colleague who messes up your projects is out to sabotage you, consider Hanlon's Razor for an alternative explanation. • Ever sat through a bad movie just because you paid a lot for the ticket? You might be falling prey to Sunk Cost Fallacy. • Set up Forcing Functions, like standing meeting or deadlines, to help grease the wheels for changes you want to occur. So, the next time you find yourself faced with a difficult decision or just trying to understand a complex situation, let Super Thinking upgrade your brain with mental models. Note: in the US the subtitle is The Big Book of Mental Models and outside it is Upgrade Your Reasoning and Make Better Decisions with Mental Models.


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A Wall Street Journal Bestseller! "You can't really know anything if you just remember isolated facts. If the facts don't hang together on a latticework of theory, you don't have them in a usable form. You've got to have models in your head." - Charlie Munger, investor, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway The world's greatest problem-solvers, forecasters, and decision-makers A Wall Street Journal Bestseller! "You can't really know anything if you just remember isolated facts. If the facts don't hang together on a latticework of theory, you don't have them in a usable form. You've got to have models in your head." - Charlie Munger, investor, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway The world's greatest problem-solvers, forecasters, and decision-makers all rely on a set of frameworks and shortcuts that help them cut through complexity and separate good ideas from bad ones. They're called mental models, and you can find them in dense textbooks on psychology, physics, economics, and more. Or, you can just read Super Thinking, a fun, illustrated guide to every mental model you could possibly need. How can mental models help you? Well, here are just a few examples... • If you've ever been overwhelmed by a to-do list that's grown too long, maybe you need the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to help you prioritize. • Use the 5 Whys model to better understand people's motivations or get to the root cause of a problem. • Before concluding that your colleague who messes up your projects is out to sabotage you, consider Hanlon's Razor for an alternative explanation. • Ever sat through a bad movie just because you paid a lot for the ticket? You might be falling prey to Sunk Cost Fallacy. • Set up Forcing Functions, like standing meeting or deadlines, to help grease the wheels for changes you want to occur. So, the next time you find yourself faced with a difficult decision or just trying to understand a complex situation, let Super Thinking upgrade your brain with mental models. Note: in the US the subtitle is The Big Book of Mental Models and outside it is Upgrade Your Reasoning and Make Better Decisions with Mental Models.

30 review for Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models

  1. 4 out of 5

    Demi Yilmaz

    I love mental models but this book can't even install 1 of them to the readers mind. It is a list of 100s of mental models explained in a few sentences. This should not have been a book but a list of mental models instead, maybe a webpage or something. I'm not sure what was Gabriel thinking turning this into a book but each mental model deserves its own course, practices, posts & examples. Each mental model can be turned in to small books. But cramming 100s of them into a single book like this i I love mental models but this book can't even install 1 of them to the readers mind. It is a list of 100s of mental models explained in a few sentences. This should not have been a book but a list of mental models instead, maybe a webpage or something. I'm not sure what was Gabriel thinking turning this into a book but each mental model deserves its own course, practices, posts & examples. Each mental model can be turned in to small books. But cramming 100s of them into a single book like this is just foolish. Overall I can only recommend this book if you want to go over 100s of mental models in a fast way. But when someone creates a decent mental model list in to a searchable form this book will be history. Here is my list enjoy: https://mmpractices.com Here is another list: https://modelthinkers.com/mental-model For more resources related to mental models: https://discord.gg/mdTQnNH

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt Cannon

    When I saw a tweet from Annie Duke saying the world would improve immediately if everyone read this book, I had to check it out. https://twitter.com/annieduke/status/... I wasn’t disappointed. This book is simple, easy to follow and gives mental models that greatly help your decision making. It has a heavy Charlie Munger influence and feel throughout the book which was an added bonus. The authors quote him often and use him and Warren Buffett in several examples. I also appreciated that it was w When I saw a tweet from Annie Duke saying the world would improve immediately if everyone read this book, I had to check it out. https://twitter.com/annieduke/status/... I wasn’t disappointed. This book is simple, easy to follow and gives mental models that greatly help your decision making. It has a heavy Charlie Munger influence and feel throughout the book which was an added bonus. The authors quote him often and use him and Warren Buffett in several examples. I also appreciated that it was written by the DuckDuckGo CEO as he used some good technology references that I enjoyed. I could write a lot about the different models covered, but I’ll spare an exhaustive list, just know you will have the decision making tools billionaires like Charlie Munger use to simplify complex decisions across a wide array of industries. You will see connections you’d normally miss and have insights that put you in an advantageous position when it comes to judgment and decision making. It’s a great read worth checking out!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Book

    As I read this book, I would get up and go see myself in front of a mirror and say "You know nothing John Snow" lol. This is one of those books that will change your life, uproot it, twist it, it will literally chew you and spit out. It combines the traditional and machine wisdom/learnings that is well written with examples to understand. You will think about your friends, family, co-workers, all the events in the past, all the living and non-living. You would remember how some of these mental mo As I read this book, I would get up and go see myself in front of a mirror and say "You know nothing John Snow" lol. This is one of those books that will change your life, uproot it, twist it, it will literally chew you and spit out. It combines the traditional and machine wisdom/learnings that is well written with examples to understand. You will think about your friends, family, co-workers, all the events in the past, all the living and non-living. You would remember how some of these mental models were applied on you or how you unknowingly fell pray to them. This book has something for everyone. Whether you are starting a company, working a normal 9-5 job, parenting, play competitive sports etc., the book offers timeless mental models that will not just make you experience life through a whole new dimension but it will also help you get better at decision making, reading people, dealing with conflict, motivating yourself and others.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miles

    Before starting it, I had misgivings about whether Lauren McCann and Gabriel Weinberg’s Super Thinking would be worthwhile for me to read. This was mainly because I have already studied a lot of mental models from various fields of research, and also because it seemed a bit too self-helpy for my taste. But my best friend bought me a copy, so I took it up in order to discuss with him. To its credit, Super Thinking is probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date collection of mental models––”recu Before starting it, I had misgivings about whether Lauren McCann and Gabriel Weinberg’s Super Thinking would be worthwhile for me to read. This was mainly because I have already studied a lot of mental models from various fields of research, and also because it seemed a bit too self-helpy for my taste. But my best friend bought me a copy, so I took it up in order to discuss with him. To its credit, Super Thinking is probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date collection of mental models––”recurring concepts that help us explain, predict, or approach…seemingly disparate subjects” available to modern readers (vii). McCann and Weinberg’s goal is to highlight a variety of “broadly useful” (or “super”) models that serve as mental tools for successfully understanding and navigating the many challenges of life (viii). They claim that the proper application of these models will result in “the ability to think better about the world––which you can use to your advantage to make better decisions, both personally and professionally (viii, emphasis theirs). The book is clever and well-written, with lots of images, funny comics and unintimidating graphs that provide multiple pathways to content comprehension. Its strongest feature is the sheer number of mental models on offer, and how McCann and Weinberg weave them together in a series of thematic chapters. Although many of the models share overlapping concepts and sometimes feel a bit redundant, the conceptual synthesis on display here is impressive. I enjoyed the first half of this book much more than the second half. This is because Super Thinking starts out by focusing on how mental models can improve our personal decision-making, whereas it ends with an examination of how they can improve our performance in professional life. I especially enjoyed the first four chapters, which explain how to be “less wrong” in general, how to avoid and effectively deal with unintended consequences, how to spend your time wisely, and how understanding the laws of nature can help us become more realistic, resilient and adaptable. There were several mental models that were new to me or that I enjoyed revisiting since I’m bad at following them. These include: ––Overfitting (the opposite of Ockham’s razor): “When you use an overly complicated explanation when a simpler one will do” (10). ––Anchoring: “Your tendency to rely too heavily on first impressions when making decisions” (14). ––Optimistic Probability Bias: When you “want something to be true so badly that you fool yourself into thinking it is likely to be true” (33). ––Luck Surface Area: “Your personal luck surface area will increase as you interact with more people in more diverse situations…You need to relax your rules for how you engage with the world” (122). My enjoyment of Super Thinking took a hit as the book became more and more preoccupied with professional achievement. The latter chapters, which have titles like “Unlocking People’s Potential” and “Flexing Your Market Power,” reveal an unacknowledged mental model that dominates McCann and Weinberg’s approach: Modern America’s hyper-capitalized way of defining “success” through market mechanisms, material gain and labor competition. For example: "When you are undifferentiated––with no sustainable competitive advantage and therefore no market power––you are completely subject to the supply-and-demand forces in the market, and the price they deliver to you. That speaks to picking an industry in high demand for the long term…It also speaks to the need to differentiate yourself from your peers by developing a unique set of skills that the market values. Then you have the opportunity to demand higher compensation by demonstrating the distinctive value you bring to your employers or clients." (284) To be clear: I don’t think McCann and Weinberg are wrong about the importance and function of differentiation in the modern labor market. Further, I think their business-related discussions throughout the book are both shrewd and well-intentioned. The problem is that I have an intellectual aversion to this way of writing and thinking about human beings and the act of living. If mental models really are as powerful and profound as McCann and Weinberg claim (which I believe they are), shouldn’t they serve a higher purpose than merely allowing us to better conform to the strictures of our unfair and arguably broken economic system? Shouldn’t they teach us how to build better families and friendships, better communities and better civic identities? Shouldn’t they unlock our potential to become more compassionate and less judgmental of others, as well as appropriately critical and mobilized in the face of injustice? Even in the earlier chapters, McCann and Weinberg demonstrate relatively little concern with these humanist goals. Instead, they content themselves with using the best ideas humans have created after millennia of trial and error and centuries of scientific inquiry to help business executives leverage “10x teams” and “activate force fields” that will generate a “sustainable competitive advantage” (248, 302). This disparity between gravity of subject matter and frivolousness of application is alarming, and renders Super Thinking a much less valuable text than it could have been. This review was originally published on my blog, words&dirt.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Van Tran

    Mental Models applied in real life context. The book did an excellent job by connecting mental models in real life context using a storytelling style rather an academic listing of the models. Highly recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian Gebski

    No star rating - I think it would rely too much on individual context. ST is a book about everything and nothing. "Mental models" are framed (named) concepts than encapsulated knowledge and observation to simplify reasoning and problem solving. But the problem is ... they are everywhere, it's hard to classify them, they have very different origins and they are products of very different disciplines or just streams of thought. That's why this book basically feels like an aggregation of other books s No star rating - I think it would rely too much on individual context. ST is a book about everything and nothing. "Mental models" are framed (named) concepts than encapsulated knowledge and observation to simplify reasoning and problem solving. But the problem is ... they are everywhere, it's hard to classify them, they have very different origins and they are products of very different disciplines or just streams of thought. That's why this book basically feels like an aggregation of other books summaries. Books of very different origin & audience. Usually - very good books. And usually - very different summary (I think). Why "I think"? Because TBH I haven't found (almost) anything new here - it means I'm revisiting knowledge I've collected "closer to the root". Maybe that's why everything was clear and straightforward, but how could I say whether it's the same for a person who doesn't read that much? For me, the major question is - does it make sense to create books like that? Books that collect the essential outcomes, the final products of long & deep considerations. To be honest - I'm not sure, but rather not. E.g. the value of Thinking Fast and Slow is much larger than just the concept of two personalities and can't be summarized on few pages. But, on the other hand, maybe a book like ST will be a beginning of a journey for several people who get inspired reading about all these models. Maybe.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Franta

    Awesome book. The authors apparently wrote the book for themselves which makes it even more useful and valuable. I would have personally used even more pictures/graphs to explain and compare ideas/behavior. A book worth returning to...

  8. 4 out of 5

    AV

    I picked this up for two reasons, 1. I've read Gabriel's first book - Traction, and found it immensely helpful. 2. I'm a big fan of mental models. Have read Robert Cialdini, Dan Kahnemann, Dan Ariely, Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Thaler & a bunch of others, including being a regular at Farnam Street. (though haven't been able to consistently use more than a handful of them) So, picking a book being portrayed as a single treasure trove, from a validated author, seemed like a no-brainer. But, I'd have t I picked this up for two reasons, 1. I've read Gabriel's first book - Traction, and found it immensely helpful. 2. I'm a big fan of mental models. Have read Robert Cialdini, Dan Kahnemann, Dan Ariely, Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Thaler & a bunch of others, including being a regular at Farnam Street. (though haven't been able to consistently use more than a handful of them) So, picking a book being portrayed as a single treasure trove, from a validated author, seemed like a no-brainer. But, I'd have to say, I'm not extremely impressed by it. First of all, it's extremely difficult to weave all the mental models into a story-like format rather than just listing all of them out. I can totally understand the amount of work that must have gone into this to infuse storytelling and make it as relatable as possible for readers to understand. And for that I really appreciate the authors. However, following were some of the things I didn't like, 1. I'm not sure if all the mental models that were talked about in this, are actually mental models in reality. Cases in point - barriers to entry / exit, appeasement, technology adoption life cycle, etc. In my view, they're actual, literal concepts / terms and I'm not sure in what respect are they being referred to as mental models. 2. Given that mental models is still not an extremely prevalent thing and is still finding its roots in the lower echelons of the society (general populace), I think a lot of the more common and predominant mental models covered in the book should have found more explanations. Case in point - Confirmation bias. I mean if I'm expected to apply these mental models in my life, then surely a couple of paragraphs will not suffice to drive home the point. 3. I'm not sure how much efforts the authors had put in to de-jargonise the concepts. I mean, at a few places, I even found myself (who's always interested in the subject) just aimlessly slogging through the pages to get over it. 4. I also think people who're new to the world of mental models might find it difficult to get a hold of the concepts in this book, because of the above factors. Because when you're talking technical & not easy-to-understand things, you cannot expect to just touch over them and expect people to "get it". 5. And surprising part is even with the lack of the above things, I felt the book still was unnecessarily lengthy. I mean, it took me close to a month to wrap it up, which is usually never the case. And definitely not for a book of 300 odd pages. And finally, not so much as a concern for readers but for authors, I think, the title of the book is really off-putting to the general public. And it's not my opinion. It's what I observed from the expressions and receptiveness of people when they came to know that I'm reading a book called "Super Thinking".

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adrien Lemaire

    I have found my new favorite book, and wrote 278 Anki cards to memorize all these mental models shared in the book. This is not a book to read casually, you probably wouldn't remember much of it. This is a book to read slowly, study and remember. Thank you Gabriel Weinberg and Laurent McCann for taking the time to write this book. It will help me for many years to come. I wish I had it 15 years ago, but life is a never-ending self-improvement experience. Looking forward to changing from cargo-cult I have found my new favorite book, and wrote 278 Anki cards to memorize all these mental models shared in the book. This is not a book to read casually, you probably wouldn't remember much of it. This is a book to read slowly, study and remember. Thank you Gabriel Weinberg and Laurent McCann for taking the time to write this book. It will help me for many years to come. I wish I had it 15 years ago, but life is a never-ending self-improvement experience. Looking forward to changing from cargo-cult scientist to super thinker. Now, I'll have to find Super Thinking partners to join me on this journey.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Haur Bin Chua

    A good collection of mental models extracted from various disciplines, which if applied properly, can help broaden one’s perspective. Very similar to Charlie Munger’s emphasis on breadth of knowledge and when magic happens when a confluence of factors across a broad spectrum manifest themselves in a lollapalooza effect. A few mental models that stood out: 1. Argue from first principles - go back to basics and figure out what are we really trying to solve 2. Be aware that your views are being frame A good collection of mental models extracted from various disciplines, which if applied properly, can help broaden one’s perspective. Very similar to Charlie Munger’s emphasis on breadth of knowledge and when magic happens when a confluence of factors across a broad spectrum manifest themselves in a lollapalooza effect. A few mental models that stood out: 1. Argue from first principles - go back to basics and figure out what are we really trying to solve 2. Be aware that your views are being framed by people around you e.g. first impressions, media 3. To avoid personal biases or framed perspective, walk a mile in their shoes, try to see from their point of view as impartially as possible using a third person’s view. How are we being perceived by the observer? 4. Learned selflessness - people stop trying when they believe their efforts just don’t cut it anymore or it’s just not worth it anymore. Results in active disengagement 5. Thinking gray - the world is not black and white. Truly effective leaders are able to see shades of gray inherent in a situation and make wise decisions on how to proceed 6. Tragedy of the commons / free riders - stems back to human nature to be selfish and greedy. Especially if the specific action does not come with any negative consequences (financial, social, civic etc). Rules and regulations need to be set to draw the line & they need to be enforced or else another negative norm is set which will make it harder to unwind. Good example on the preschool imposition of preschool late pick up fines that made it okay to ‘pay’ for the teachers’ extra time leading to more late pick ups. When the fine was removed, the numbers didn’t recover because a new norm has been set 7. Asymmetric information e.g. Real Estate agent vs buyer 8. Goodhart’s law - when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure 9. Technical debt - in programming, most coders tend to prioritise short term code fixes over long term, well designed ones. Over time the debts accumulate to make the code clunky and someone in the future will have to fix the mess. Short termism 10. Path dependence. Sometimes the outcome was decided by a path taken earlier. Trick is to recognize points of no return 11. Paradox of choice - over abundance of choice lead to fear of making suboptimal choices & unhappiness. Improve design by limiting choice where possible 12. The top idea in your mind - most people have one or two and their thoughts will drift toward when they’re allowed to. Normally these are things that excite them because they are impactful. However, not many organisations allow time for people to have their minds drift freely into these top ideas and put them into actions. These are the ideas that can move the needle and generate passion amongst people e.g. Google 13. Deep work - allow people to spend time on tackling the really tough things undisturbed. Most people will want to solve problems they know how to solve. These are the B+ problems at best. In the long run, the company will be a B+ company. The A+ problems are hard by definition and require deep unobstructed work and to be a truly top organisation, deep work on top of best people are needed to solve the really tough problems 14. What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important - Dwight Eisenhower 15. Parkinson’s law - work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion 15. Reframe the problem to help look at it from different angles. The shortcuts can normally be found e.g. hackers reframe the problem from ‘How can we best guess your password’ to ‘how can we best get your password’ 16. It’s not the most intellectual or strongest of species that survives but the one that is best to adapt to the changing environment 17. Don’t fight with nature - inertia requires significant amount of activation energy. Make sure you have that first 18. Shirky principle - institutions will try to preserve the problem which they are the solution. Reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s autobiography where he shared his encounter with unemployment offices discouraging people to take up jobs but to receive their handouts instead; bureaucracy’s number one objective is to preserve the bureaucracy 19. Flywheel - a rotating disk that is used to store energy to create momentum 20. Homeostasis - organism regulates itself around a certain condition similar to organisations regulating itself around a certain metrics or values 21. Technology adoption cycle - innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%), laggards (16%) 22. Metcalfe’s law - non linear growth in network value when nodes are connected to one another 23. Accept that we are surrounded by chaotic system and adaptability is the key success factor. Don’t be lulled into a sense of stability and put effort into creating a perfect system in the stable system that does not exist in the first places. It’s okay to plan ahead, just be aware that all it takes is a flap of the butterfly’s wings to undo the plans 24. Luck surface area - lucky people are not lucky. They tend to spread themselves that covers a wide surface area such that when an opportunity arises, they are there 25. For any issues, you can find people on both sides with ‘numbers’ to back up their position 26. Survivorship bias - surveys are filled by people who care enough to response. E.g. surviving WW2 planes were analysed and reinforced based on where they were hit the most but realised that these were the planes that survived and the places most hit are the ones that need the least reinforcements because Pilots can survive even when those areas are hit hard 27. Bayesian - starting from a prior (intuition) and converge toward the truth. Faster but prone to local optimum. Frequentist - starting from scratch based on cold hard numbers. More accurate only if there big enough and diversified sample size 28. Hysteresis - system’s current state can depend on its history e.g. T cells that help power our immune system, upon activation, would require lower threshold to reactivate 29. Knowns and unknowns (2x2 matrix). Objective is to move as many things it known knowns as possible. Known unknowns (get help from others who know), unknown knowns (get some experience), unknown unknowns (thought experiments, scenario analysis to minimise blind spots) 30. Beware of groupthink. Typically associated to person with the highest demonstration of confidence able to get their bandwagons going with followers jumping on quickly creating a convergent thinking environment 31. Social norms is more powerful than market norms. E.g. one is less likely to want to be paid by neighbours to babysit their kid vs doing them a favour 32. Distributive justice vs procedural justice - equity vs equality 33. Strawman - opponent misrepresent the issue by associating your argument to something else that’s easy to attack and incite emotions 34. Loss leader strategy - one product is priced low to increase the demand for complementary products 35. Sometimes the only winning move is not to play. Not all conflicts need to be tackled head on or resolved. Need to be selective, else it is going to severely drain your resources 36. Generals always fight the last war. Successful people / leaders are where they are because of their past victories and modus operandi which helped them leapfrog the then status quo. Until when they become the status quo 37. Organisations hardly ever have perfect resources nor can they always afford to wait until they have better ones before moving forward. Great people are unlikely to be concentrated in a single organisation. Successful organisations are successful because right people are led in the right way 38. 10x teams or 10x employees. Right confluence of factors to lead to superior performance. However, the output may not be replicated when they switch roles or projects 39. Creating a 10x team requires a leader to understand the difference and nuances. It goes way beyond just putting a body on the job but having the right skills, attitude, personalities within the team. More often than not large organisations have the tendency to trust their processes too much that people feel like they’re just a cog in the machine and hence feel disengaged, instead of creating a 10x team, a 0.1x team was created 40. Three types of people required in different phases of organisation / project life cycles - commando (speed, no rules, create a beachhead), army (large numbers to build systems and infrastructures to extend advantage), police (enforce rules, build stability for growth). Having the wrong group at the wrong time can hurt you a lot more than helps 41. The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Successful businesses were started by hedgehogs having a singular focus to be good at one core idea. However for the successful company to survive in the long term, they need foxes. Hedgehogs tend to have a focused world view whereas foxes tend to be more cautious and pragmatic 42. When giving feedbacks with radical candour - Being vague and abstract is much easier because it avoids the hard work of identifying specific examples and the psychological stress of debating the nuances around those specifics. If you care enough for the person, gotta put in the hard work 43. Dunning-Kruger effect - early part of the learning curve is exciting. But it is quickly followed by the reality on how much more do you have to learn before you become the expert and finally the satisfying feeling when the expertise is obtained. Key is to not give up after the initial euphoria. Applies to many things in life, people tend to be happier in their youth and old age 44. Self serving bias - you’re more likely to say that your mistakes could not have been predicted and more likely to apply hindsight bias to be critical of others 45. Being explicit about the cultural norms in a company is one of the most high leverage activities you can do as a leader 46. Manager’s schedule vs. maker’s schedule 47. The only way to generate outstanding returns is to be right and contrarian. Just being right is not enough but don’t be a contrarian for the sake of being a contrarian - that’s more dangerous 48. Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare - Japanese proverb 49. OODA loop - observe, orient, decide, act. Air Force Pilots are trained to go through OODA loops quickly during dogfights where there’s no time for analysis 50. Pivoting is difficult because it cuts against organisational inertia, involves openly admitting failures and requires finding a better solution all at the same time 51. Only the paranoid survive

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dima Yousef Jadaan

    This book is about mental models, which are frameworks of thinking and representations about how things work. Mental models aim to simplify the thinking process and help in decision making and problem solving. ⁣ ⁣ This is a well researched book where the authors integrate an exhaustive compilation of mental models from a wide variety of domains and provide a toolkit for higher-level thinking applicable to various personal and professional contexts. The models are presented in thematic chapters tha This book is about mental models, which are frameworks of thinking and representations about how things work. Mental models aim to simplify the thinking process and help in decision making and problem solving. ⁣ ⁣ This is a well researched book where the authors integrate an exhaustive compilation of mental models from a wide variety of domains and provide a toolkit for higher-level thinking applicable to various personal and professional contexts. The models are presented in thematic chapters that cover a myriad of topics including cognitive biases, probabilistic thinking, statistical reasoning, game theory, conflict resolution, business strategies, leadership, etc. The authors refer to numerous resources such as Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational, Cal Newport's Deep Work, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile.⁣ ⁣ The breadth of models included in the book, however, comes at the cost of depth in my opinion. As the authors pack hundreds of concepts and models in 300 pages, their explanations are sometimes shallow. Despite the authors' attempt to present a holistic toolkit of mental models, most of the concepts are described in few sentences with insufficient explanations, examples, and model comparisons. Readers, particularly those who are new to mental models, might find the content overwhelming and difficult to grasp, especially when read for the first time.⁣ ⁣ That said, this is a rich overview of various mental models that suits a wide range of audiences including professionals, undergraduate and graduate students, entrepreneurs, and managers. This is not a book that you read once, as most probably you won't remember much of it. My advice is to read the book slowly and to keep it as a reference guide to the fascinating topic of mental models.⁣

  12. 5 out of 5

    Casey Ryan

    Had high hopes for this book, as I need some more mental models in my life. I devour a ton of information, and can often have trouble recalling or applying it. This book was more common sensical best practices for leading efficient careers, relationships or organizations. A few things I knew before, but most stuff was putting a label on things that are common sense, theories from first year courses in social sciences or business. Took me a while to get through, and we'll see if any of it sticks Had high hopes for this book, as I need some more mental models in my life. I devour a ton of information, and can often have trouble recalling or applying it. This book was more common sensical best practices for leading efficient careers, relationships or organizations. A few things I knew before, but most stuff was putting a label on things that are common sense, theories from first year courses in social sciences or business. Took me a while to get through, and we'll see if any of it sticks

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alison Jones

    Back in the late 1980s, I stumbled across a book entitled Cultural Literacy: What every American needs to know. I wasn’t sure whether this was more brilliant or bonkers: how could you ever hope to capture everything a person should know about their world into a single book? But on the other hand, how handy is that? To be fair, Super Thinking doesn’t attempt to cover every aspect of life, only mental models, but it feels similarly ambitious and dizzying. It contains more than 300 models – an aver Back in the late 1980s, I stumbled across a book entitled Cultural Literacy: What every American needs to know. I wasn’t sure whether this was more brilliant or bonkers: how could you ever hope to capture everything a person should know about their world into a single book? But on the other hand, how handy is that? To be fair, Super Thinking doesn’t attempt to cover every aspect of life, only mental models, but it feels similarly ambitious and dizzying. It contains more than 300 models – an average of around one per page – ranging from everyday concepts such as Parkinson’s Law and unforced errors to ones that were entirely new to me, such as data dredging and hysteresis. As a former reference books editor, I did spend a fair proportion of my listening time shouting at the narrator ‘This should have been a dictionary!’ That certainly would have been an easier book to write. But on reflection I have to admit Weinberg and McCann took the right approach in weaving the models into a narrative framework. Dictionaries are great when you know what you’re looking for, but Super Thinking excels at showing you the thinking apparatus you didn’t know you needed (which is in itself a nice illustration of ‘unknown unknowns’ – the Johari model). Also, dictionaries can easily be replaced by listicle web pages: this book, not so much. They group the models into broad categories – problem solving, change, decision-making, conflict, leadership etc – and provide background and context for each model, turning what could be an interesting but abstract collection of ideas into a practical toolkit with worked examples. And just as a good toolkit enables you to carry out tasks more effectively than you could with your bare hands – at least, if you know how to USE those tools – so having a mind equipped with at least a smattering of these models will help you make sense of the world more effectively. Once you know these patterns you see use cases for them everywhere: the Eisenhower matrix helps you prioritise your tasks for the day; understanding confirmation bias will remind you to test your senior management team’s recommendations more critically than you otherwise might; being aware of Hick’s Law (ie the more choices someone has, the longer it will take them to make a decision) will ensure you keep your website navigation clean and lean. It’s hard to pick favourites from so many, but three that particularly stuck in my mind and that I’ve drawn on even in the few days since I finished are: • luck surface area – you can make the choice to get ‘luckier’ by expanding your exposure to the potential for luck, by embracing openness and putting yourself in front of new people and new situations • Commandos, infantry and police – the three types of people needed on the ground in successive waves of an invasion. Commandos (start-up founders) move fast, they do whatever needs to be done to get the job done. Once they’ve established a beachhead (ooh look, another model) the infantry (leaders) come in and set up the new rules and processes. And once the new status quo is established, it’s over to the police (managers). Don’t ask a commando to do the policing, or vice versa. • Sayre’s Law – ‘In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.’ Originally formulated with academic politics in mind, it’s worth keeping in mind any time you feel yourself being sucked into an argument generating more heat than light. In short, this is a superb introduction to metacognition – thinking about thinking – and a smart way to get yourself an unfair advantage in pretty much every area of life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sam Moreton

    The most practical book on mental models I've found to date.. and I've read a lot of them. The most practical book on mental models I've found to date.. and I've read a lot of them.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    The title (“Superthinking”) is more accurate than the subtitle (“The Big Book of Mental Models”). The book was about tools for thinking more generally than mental models. What I was looking for with mental models are metaphors that can be applied cross-discipline for understanding a situation or system, it had a little bit of that but mostly covered cognitive biases as well as some statistical reasoning. I think there are better books that provide more focus on the latter two so I was mostly loo The title (“Superthinking”) is more accurate than the subtitle (“The Big Book of Mental Models”). The book was about tools for thinking more generally than mental models. What I was looking for with mental models are metaphors that can be applied cross-discipline for understanding a situation or system, it had a little bit of that but mostly covered cognitive biases as well as some statistical reasoning. I think there are better books that provide more focus on the latter two so I was mostly looking for the former. For me this meant the book felt like it was sitting at too many levels of abstractions. For example, confirmation bias is useful to know but not necessarily in the same metaphorical way as a concept like critical mass. I think it would have been better served as a Pattern Language like book where it’s more of a library of tools that also show how the tools link and relate to each other instead of the more typical non-fiction form. I think it might have also worked better as articles instead of a book. Lastly it’s to business and tech focused for me I would rather have more mental models that draw from more varied fields like music, cooking, or sports instead.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alessandro Orlandi

    I agree with people who said that it's not really a book on mental models. It could have took a name of Thoughts on things. Because actually makes some reflections on various aspects and define problems and how to think about them. I was expecting more a book that related to Poor Charlie Almanac, with a set of mental model which can help to relate with the world. The author has attempted to explain too much in very few pages, who actually leads to have very little added info on on many different I agree with people who said that it's not really a book on mental models. It could have took a name of Thoughts on things. Because actually makes some reflections on various aspects and define problems and how to think about them. I was expecting more a book that related to Poor Charlie Almanac, with a set of mental model which can help to relate with the world. The author has attempted to explain too much in very few pages, who actually leads to have very little added info on on many different things.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bemmu

    Packed with short descriptions of all the mental models the founder of Duck Duck Go feels are essential to know. He mentioned in a podcast interview that this grew out of notes he had written for employees. I’m not sure how to rate this, as it feels a bit like rating an encyclopedia. Yes, it certainly packs a lot of mental models, but is also pretty exhausting to read, and has to be digested in small bits, as you are introduced to a new idea on every page. Then again, that’s the opposite of the u Packed with short descriptions of all the mental models the founder of Duck Duck Go feels are essential to know. He mentioned in a podcast interview that this grew out of notes he had written for employees. I’m not sure how to rate this, as it feels a bit like rating an encyclopedia. Yes, it certainly packs a lot of mental models, but is also pretty exhausting to read, and has to be digested in small bits, as you are introduced to a new idea on every page. Then again, that’s the opposite of the usual fault of popular books — those where one idea gets 300 pages where 3 would do.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Milan

    This is a fabulous book by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann which explains over a hundred mental models. Mental models help us to think better about the world and help make better decisions. But including a hundred models in a book is not an easy task. So the book is a bit short on explanations and how to use these models in daily life. However, not all models are useful for a person so I'm free to choose the ones which I find more useful to me and keep adding to my repertoire slowly. This is a fabulous book by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann which explains over a hundred mental models. Mental models help us to think better about the world and help make better decisions. But including a hundred models in a book is not an easy task. So the book is a bit short on explanations and how to use these models in daily life. However, not all models are useful for a person so I'm free to choose the ones which I find more useful to me and keep adding to my repertoire slowly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aisha Alhashmi

    Another Blinkist... The titles in this book might sound big and intimidating, but how the author has explained them and provided an example for each made the concept so simple and relatable. I might buy/get the actual book to add it to my collection.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Abugosh

    Nothing groundbreaking (to be honest I was expecting more), but it was nice to read about all of the popular mental models together in one place.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heli

    This book is poor. It is ultimately the mishmash of startup hype and doesn't teach you new things. But it does teach some things wrong. At the start I was getting hopeful that oh, good, a pretty useful list of all sorts of ways to think about all sorts of problems. So that list is useful a bit. But the explanations... When it got to systems thinking and laid out approximately two sentences about how "you should think about the system as a whole" without a word about its parts, the relationships This book is poor. It is ultimately the mishmash of startup hype and doesn't teach you new things. But it does teach some things wrong. At the start I was getting hopeful that oh, good, a pretty useful list of all sorts of ways to think about all sorts of problems. So that list is useful a bit. But the explanations... When it got to systems thinking and laid out approximately two sentences about how "you should think about the system as a whole" without a word about its parts, the relationships of the parts and the premises and what happens to parts, relationships and the whole if the premises change. That was the end of my suspension of disbelief. I wish for everyone not to pay for this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nishit

    A lot of objections I see people having with this book is that it brushes over a lot of mental models without going into the details of it. But I don't think that was what this book was written for. This book is an introduction to over 200 mental models (I know this, cause I've made note of each one of it) and it serves as one good guide to base your decisions on. Good stuff. Although it does get heavy at times. A lot of objections I see people having with this book is that it brushes over a lot of mental models without going into the details of it. But I don't think that was what this book was written for. This book is an introduction to over 200 mental models (I know this, cause I've made note of each one of it) and it serves as one good guide to base your decisions on. Good stuff. Although it does get heavy at times.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    An extremely readable / accessible approach towards a wide variety of mental models and how to move them into your life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jrene

    Exciting and interesting approaches, but somehow too much due to the quantity to really absorb and apply in everyday life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Fitt

    3.5 stars Book has a lot of useful information and does appear to be a good starter for the self help genre. That being said if you have ready many self help books, I would give this a pass as you will find many repetitive ideas.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A couple of gems, and a few reminders of useful mental models.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sigmund Sundelin

    It's got some pretty good "mental models" that I didn't know of, and the descriptions are easy to follow. However, I was a bit disappointed that a big part of the book was spent on "mental models" that are pretty much only relevant for people working in, or leading, businesses. I was hoping for "mental models" that would be more generally useful. That being said, there were a lot of interesting "mental models" in the first half of the book that I'll definitely remember. It's got some pretty good "mental models" that I didn't know of, and the descriptions are easy to follow. However, I was a bit disappointed that a big part of the book was spent on "mental models" that are pretty much only relevant for people working in, or leading, businesses. I was hoping for "mental models" that would be more generally useful. That being said, there were a lot of interesting "mental models" in the first half of the book that I'll definitely remember.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dušan Mrkvička

    Damn you, self-help books. Why do I always think the next one will be worth my time? When I heard Gabriel Weinberg speaking on The Knowledge Project podcast, I was quite excited. The guy was obviously smart and our mindsets seemed to resonate on the same frequency. Apart from the dickish title, Super Thinking promised to be an interesting book. Unfortunately it did not manage to deliver what it promised. Even though it is not a complete failure, it still felt like a complete waste of time. The cen Damn you, self-help books. Why do I always think the next one will be worth my time? When I heard Gabriel Weinberg speaking on The Knowledge Project podcast, I was quite excited. The guy was obviously smart and our mindsets seemed to resonate on the same frequency. Apart from the dickish title, Super Thinking promised to be an interesting book. Unfortunately it did not manage to deliver what it promised. Even though it is not a complete failure, it still felt like a complete waste of time. The central role in the book is occupied by the concept of mental models. As lofty as the term sounds, mental models are partly principles to keep in mind when making judgments, partly methods that simplify complex issues into something people can solve. This sounds good and for somebody who has never read a book in their life, Super Thinking may be full of revelations. For me it offered nearly nothing new. Weinberg and McCann present their most useful advice when they take ideas from software development and generalize these into an everyday life. Being aware of risks of premature optimization (going into details when the concept is not fixed yet) or usefulness of a minimum viable product (building only what you need to test the core functionality) is certainly a good thing. Some of the models are also useful to gain a better understanding of the world (fundamental attribution error, just world hypothesis, tyranny of small decisions). But in all cases this is hardly new stuff. Worse is when the authors spend pages and pages on topics like decision trees, cost and benefit analysis or various probability distributions. These are not well connected to the rest of the book, and were also explained much better at other places. Even my university teachers were clearer while talking about these topics, despite their attempts to make everything seem complicated. As a result Super Thinking feels like a wordy copy of an MBA course guide. Lastly, there is something odd with the pace of the book. At the beginning, the authors run across dozens of mental models in a very high pace, sometimes with one paragraph for each. Later in the book, they delve deep into some of the models. But the models that got more attention are not any more important than those which were only briefly mentioned. There isn't much structure to the book either, so apart from some distinct chapters (aforementioned probability distributions for example), I hardly saw a reason for the book to have any chapters at all. Despite the above, Super Thinking is not a bad book. It's full of useful advice, but it's only useful if the concepts are new to you. I do not consider myself to be well-read, yet I kept stumbling upon topic after topic which I knew very well already. And so I wonder who is this book for. If you read similar literature regularly, you already know it all. If not, it may give you a good overview, but you may as well use the time to read something deeper instead.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Omar El-mohri

    A very successful summary of mental models that you might read elsewhere, but putting them in a more integrated way is really important

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dani0010

    Rehashed, tired compendium of other self improvement literature. Nothing original. Complete waste of time.

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