Are you using models or are they using you?

Editor’s Note: This is an update to an article originally written nearly 2 years ago. There is a companion page of examples.  Example 5 is particularly useful for this post.

Did you just think of the plastic model that you built and then played with as a kid? Well, that is a good start. Those models are scale representations (exact copies where everything is a certain amount smaller). Scale models are only one kind of model.Scale Plane Model

 What are models?

Models may be called a lot of things: paradigms, worldview, political leaning, religious affiliation, frameworks or any of several dozen other names. Models help us think about and understand the parts of reality that are represented in the model. If you want a twenty dollar word, another word for model is allegory.

Reality is just too complex for us to understand. We therefore create an image of reality in our minds, on paper and/or using a computer. Reality is WAY too complex for the mind to completely absorb, so the image, by necessity only a represents a piece of reality. This is a model. Without models, information would be nothing more than a random, meaningless collection of facts and figures.

How we use them.

You use models even if you don’t know it. Models are incredibly important. Leaning to use them consciously is a key to thriving in all this massive change!

Models of the human body, the galaxy, the genome, the environment and molecules help scientists understand and investigate those specific parts of reality more deeply. Business models define how a business organization approaches its mission.

Models store, organize and retrieve information that is too much, too volatile or too detailed to remember.

Working with models help you organize data and information into knowledge. As they mature, these models allow you to analyze and evaluate knowledge. New bits of data constantly enter your awareness. You subconsciously use the model to evaluate the relevance of the new data. If it fits, it is gathered with related data to form information. If it doesn’t fit, it is discarded. More on the risks of this in a minute.

It is nearly impossible to process any complex ideas without a model. For example, historical data is just a useless collection of dates and names. With a model, you can see how history repeats. With a good model, you can recognize when positive patterns are recurring and participate. Just as important, you can AVOID exposure to negative patterns.

Bad models can wreak havoc

It is important to consciously evaluate your models. Using a faulty model causes you to ignore relevant changes in time to take the appropriate steps. There are many reasons why a model is faulty.

  • A formerly useful model could be out of date (they completed a new bridge that isn’t on the map)
  • It could have errors (4201 Anderson Lane is on the left but the map says it is on the right),
  • It could be illegible (the ink smeared and I can’t tell these 3 streets apart).
  • You might even have the wrong model.

Examples of how bad models can wreck things:

  • A bad map can get you lost. The consequences range from inconvenience to ending up in a dangerous location
  • Bad economic models can lead you to bad decisions about career and investment choices
  • Bad business models can bankrupt an organization
  • Defective political models can cause destructive policies to be implemented

The importance of common models

A new model must lead to greater security, open government, and open business practices. Changing the world is a huge growth opportunity, and a necessary task for our future Generation ~Alice Iida

Groups of people need to use common models to collaborate effectively. The best example we see today of trying to collaborate without a common model is the dysfunctional US Government. Republicans and Democrats use different models to decide the best course for government policy and the beaurocrats that enforce that policy have a completely different model. I think they are all (at best) using outdated, industrial age models that have little relevance to today’s Next Economy realities.

What models are you using?

What models are the people in your life using?


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