To become a “right-brained organization,” the focus of the organization must shift from technology to the user. Decision-making must be centered around the user. This requires the organization to truly understand its users and to establish empathy. Empathy is often understood as the ability to see things from another’s perspective, but true empathy means understanding and using the other person’s mental models to think.
The so-called “mental models” are a psychological concept, often understood as a shortcut for thinking in the brain. Psychological research tells us that humans do not make decisions based solely on reason, as we rely on various irrational and rapid thinking pathways for 96% of our decisions. For example, good quality products are expensive and expensive products are good. This constitutes the true “mental model” of humans.
Only by truly understanding the user’s mental models can organizations, including managers and employees, establish true empathy. Without understanding the mental models of users, the “user-centric” approach is just a slogan!
This is especially important for product innovation work! An obvious trend is that today’s product development must revolve around the needs of users; products developed in isolation will not be purchased by users. Mental models are the key to innovative products, and they are closely related to the design of business models, user behavior and experience, and user behavior related to the use or purchase of products.
The more innovative the product, the greater the challenge to the user’s original mental model. For example, when a highly innovative product is presented to users, they may be confused about whether the new product is useful or can solve their problems. However, when they are confused, most people do not immediately spend time studying the product. Instead, they say they will study it when they have time. In fact, this is a new product that can only be valued after it has been used. Therefore, users cannot make purchasing decisions. Although they say, “Wow! Cool!” they do not open their wallets.
To solve such problems with new products, product managers need to start with mental models. Excellent products should not only create value for users, but also design a path for users’ mental models, so that users can smoothly follow it.
Therefore, product developers today, such as product managers and designers, must master the relevant knowledge and methods of mental models. For example, the “UCPM Product Manager” certification include product psychology, user experience design, behavior design, and business model design, all of which are based on the theory and methods of mental models. Leading companies have proved that product developers can only create truly popular products by mastering the research and design methods of mental models.
In fact, a “right-brained organization” does not abandon left-brain thinking. Excellent right-brained organizations have strong left-brain capabilities, but their right-brain abilities are even stronger. Just like our human brain, the left and right hemispheres must work together in order to help us make correct decisions. Therefore, once a “left-brained organization” has compensated for its right-brain abilities and even made them the organization’s strength, it can unleash an unimaginable level of innovation. Both Jobs and Musk were trained as technical engineers, but both showed very strong right-brain thinking abilities. As a result, whether it was Apple during Jobs’ era or Tesla under Musk’s leadership, they were both industry benchmarks and leaders in innovation.
For today’s companies, innovation is a necessary path for development. Transforming a “left-brained organization” into a “right-brained organization” is an organizational change that involves leadership, culture, employees, processes, and methods. However, starting from the grassroots level, empowering managers and employees at all levels, equipping them with the theory and practical methods of “metal models,” and enhancing their right-brain abilities, especially leveraging new products to drive organizational innovation and change, is a quick and efficient “shortcut”!