Shared mental models
Shared mental models are shared understanding of how things work and how tasks should be completed among members of a team. This shared understanding is developed through communication between team members and is based on their shared experiences and knowledge. It allows for increased efficiency and collaboration, as it helps the team members to predict each other’s behaviors and how they will respond to various situations. It also helps teams to quickly identify and resolve disagreements or misunderstandings, as each team member is aware of the perspective of the others.
- At a restaurant, the server, cook, and host all have a shared mental model of how to provide an efficient and enjoyable experience to the customers. The server knows what the customers will want, how they should be greeted, and how to take their order. The cook understands the server’s requests and the host is the first point of contact that sets the tone for the restaurant experience.
- In a sports team, the players, coach, and manager have a shared mental model of how to work together to achieve the team’s goals. The players understand their individual roles, the coach’s strategies, and the manager’s expectations. They also understand the team’s core values and the importance of supporting each other.
- In a classroom, the teacher, students, and parents have a shared mental model of how to work together to create an effective learning environment. The teacher understands the students’ needs and expectations, the students understand the teacher’s expectations, and the parents understand their role in helping their child succeed.
Shared mental models can be useful in multiple situations. When team members have a shared understanding of how to complete tasks, they can work together effectively and efficiently. Additionally, shared mental models can help teams to quickly identify and resolve disagreements or misunderstandings. Some specific applications of shared mental models can include:
- Strategic planning: Shared mental models can help members of a team to better understand the goals and strategies of the organization and how they can contribute to achieving them.
- Conflict resolution: Shared mental models can help team members to quickly identify disagreements and resolve them in a more effective manner.
- Decision-making: Shared mental models can help teams to make decisions more quickly and effectively, as team members can better understand each other’s perspectives and the implications of their decisions.
- Performance improvement: Shared mental models can help teams to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to increase efficiency and performance.
Shared mental models are forms of shared understanding that are developed through communication among members of a team. The following are the most common types of shared mental models:
- Implicit mental models: These are the mental models that team members develop without ever discussing it, often without even being aware of it. This type of model is based on the individual’s personal experiences and observations.
- Explicit mental models: This type of mental model is developed through explicit conversations between team members. It is based on the ideas and beliefs that they have collectively developed and agreed to.
- Shared assumptions: These are the assumptions that the team has collectively developed and agreed upon. They are based on the team’s collective experiences and may be either explicit or implicit.
- Organizational culture: This type of mental model is based on the values and beliefs that are shared by the members of the organization. It is based on a shared understanding of the organization’s mission and goals and how it operates.
- Task-specific mental models: This type of mental model is specific to the tasks and activities that are being undertaken by the team. It is based on the collective experiences of the team members and their understanding of how the task should be completed.
Shared mental models are an important tool for teams to increase collaboration, efficiency, and understanding. Below are some of the advantages of having a shared mental model:
- Increased efficiency: By having a shared understanding of how to complete tasks, there is less need for multiple rounds of communication, as everyone is on the same page. This can lead to quicker completion of tasks.
- Improved collaboration: With a shared mental model, team members can predict each other’s behavior and actions, allowing for greater collaboration and coordination.
- Reduced conflict: A shared understanding of the team’s goals and objectives can help to reduce disagreements between team members, as they understand each other’s perspectives.
- Deeper knowledge: A shared mental model can help team members to gain a deeper understanding of the team’s processes, as they can learn from each other’s experiences.
- Improved decision making: With a shared mental model, team members can come to decisions more quickly and effectively, as they are able to take into account the perspectives of all members of the team.
Shared mental models have several limitations:
- They can be difficult to develop, as each team member has a unique perspective and knowledge base that must be considered.
- They can be difficult to maintain, as they can become outdated if team members’ experiences and knowledge change.
- They can be overly restrictive, as they can limit creativity and innovation.
- They can be difficult to transfer, as they are specific to the team that developed them, and may not be easily understood by other teams.
- They can be difficult to evaluate, as it can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of a shared mental model.
Shared mental models are an important part of any team’s success, as they facilitate quick decision making and collaboration. Other approaches that are related to shared mental models include:
- Groupthink: This is the tendency for members of a team to conform to the dominant beliefs and opinions of the group, even if they might not otherwise agree. This can limit creativity and discourage critical thinking, and can lead to bad decisions.
- Group Norms: This refers to the expectations of behavior and values that are accepted and shared by the members of a team. These norms can provide the team with a sense of purpose and structure, and help to create a unified vision.
- Social Identity Theory: This theory states that individuals are influenced by their social group and strive to maintain a positive image in the eyes of their peers. This can lead to increased motivation and performance, as individuals will strive to meet the expectations of their group.
- Shared Leadership: This approach to leadership involves creating a collaborative environment in which all team members have a voice and can contribute to the decision making process. This can help to create a sense of ownership and commitment to the team’s goals.
In summary, shared mental models are just one component of a successful team, and other approaches such as groupthink, group norms, social identity theory, and shared leadership can also be important in creating a successful team dynamic.
|Shared mental models — recommended articles|
|Cultures and organizations — Process of learning — Informational social influence — Transformational leadership — Sense of identity — Leadership and management — Team development — Model of emotional intelligence — Leadership skills development|
- Mathieu, J. E., Heffner, T. S., Goodwin, G. F., Salas, E., & Cannon-Bowers, J. A. (2000). The influence of shared mental models on team process and performance. Journal of applied psychology, 85(2), 273.
- Van den Bossche, P., Gijselaers, W., Segers, M., Woltjer, G., & Kirschner, P. (2011). Team learning: building shared mental models. Instructional science, 39, 283-301.
- Bolstad, C. A., & Endsley, M. R. (1999, September). Shared mental models and shared displays: An empirical evaluation of team performance. In proceedings of the human factors and ergonomics society annual meeting (Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 213-217). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.