A few years ago, I was getting ready to present some new designs to a few executives for review. The research was thorough. The interactions were thoughtful. The pixels were polished.
But as I started to explain our team’s design direction, things went south. People were slightly confused and weren’t sure how we were making decisions. Ultimately, they had a hard time buying in, and it was all on me.
After the review, I realized that:
- I hadn’t shown how we solved the problem
- I hadn’t created a clear decision framework
- I hadn’t crafted a narrative around our solution
Turns out, there’s a lot more to being a designer than designing.
So how can you operate outside of your core design skills? Use mental models: simple explanations of how something in the world works. Like supply and demand, which helps us understand the economy, or the Pareto Principle, which helps us understand cause and effect.
To get you started, I’ve put together a set of seven of my favorite mental models that I use daily as a designer. They’ll help you solve problems, make decisions, and communicate ideas.
Models for problem-solving
Do you need an innovative solution to a complex problem? Try approaching the problem from first principles.
To do this, take your problem and:
- Break it down into its fundamental parts
- Reconfigure those parts to build a solution