Mental models are the way we see the world. Our brains develop models to make sense of the environment. Our mental models are a compilation of assumptions, our understanding of data and information and a way for us to take action. Mental models literally become neural pathways in our brain that shape how we naturally think, and form the foundation of our habits and actions. Over time, several big-picture concepts of models have been developed.
The first concept is the Rational model. The rational model thinker is driven by a need to gather as much information as possible to understand their world and to make a decision. Rational thinkers are driven to gain as much information, data, insight and understanding of a situation BEFORE acting.
Some refer to a second model called by various terms such as muddling through or winging it. In my mind these are not really models, but more the absence of a model, or a lack of awareness. I really won’t spend anymore time discussing this, as it is really not useful.
The third way is what has been called Mixed-scanning. Those who ascribe to a mixed scanning approach will obtain enough information, etc. that they think allows them to make a good decision for the next step. They will then move forward and try to gain as much information, data, insight and understanding of a situation AS and AFTER acting. Subsequent decisions will then get made in light of new conditions.
If we want to obtain an integrated life, we need to learn to apply this third way thinking to our system. This models beauty and power comes in two forms. First it allows to plan sufficiently and start sooner. Second it allows us to be simultaneously deliberate and flexible.