Chapter 45. Improve Your Decision Making with Mental Models

Mathias Meyer

Whether you’re a new or experienced engineering manager, the chances are high that you’ll be finding yourself in similar situations all the time. Someone might repeatedly come to you with the same question, or you’re observing the same kind of situation play out many times over.

Maybe conflict keeps bubbling up during a meeting. Or people fight over a specific tooling or approach for building a new feature. Or your engineers argue constantly about how important it is to fix an architectural problem over upcoming product priorities.

It’s only natural to take each of these situations and respond as you see fit every time. Some of them might be influenced by how you’re feeling at that moment, others by how close you are with the person who comes to you with a problem or question. As either varies throughout the day, it’s likely that you’ll end up telling different people different things, which will confuse matters more.

In these situations, it helps to build up a set of mental models, decision-making models, or frameworks. They’re a set of responses that you go through when you’re faced with certain situations. They allow you to move past an initial response, which tends to be driven more by emotions and intuition (which isn’t a bad thing, we’re all human after all), and move toward a more objective and ...

Get 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.