Mental Models Collapse in Complex Projects — The Experience Trap

NOTE: 2nd post of a series on an HBR article by Prof. Kishore Sengupta, et al on The Experience Trap.

Many PMs claim that any PM should be able to run any project in any industry, solution, etc. (I’ve found only top talent can really do this).  These first few sentences demonstrate one of the problems faced by PMs without that domain expertise — no frame of reference for project issues, risks, even the relative importance of stakeholder relationships:

When anyone makes a decision, he or she draws on a preexisting stock of knowledge called a mental model. It consists largely of assumptions about cause-and-effect relationships in the environment. As people observe what happens as a result of their decisions, they learn new facts and make new discoveries about environmental relationships.

However, this ability to learn is more limited than commonly assumed.  For while…

…people form a hypothesis about a relationship between a cause and an effect…, [t]he problem is that the approach seems to be effective only in relatively simple environments, where cause-and-effect relationships are straightforward and easily discovered. In more complex environments, such as software projects, the learning cycle frequently breaks down.

Advertisements

One Response

  1. […] “…people form a hypothesis about a relationship between a cause and an effect…, [t]he problem is that the approach seems to be effective only in relatively simple environments, where cause-and-effect relationships are straightforward and easily discovered. In more complex environments, such as software projects, the learning cycle frequently breaks down” as quoted on CrossDerry. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: