Filtering or Focusing: QMN024
Martial Mental Models: The Quartermaster, Tuesday, 28 May
(Today’s report is a 5 minute read)
BLUF: Mental models can make the complex understandable. But are they about filtering out unnecessary information or are they about focusing the mind on what's important - or is it both? If we understand how mental models work - and why and when they’re valuable - can we adopt a method to build mental models for ourselves and our own problems?
Brady here.The logic, heuristics and application of human genius that go into mental models is amazing, and at least in certain circles is well-celebrated. What interests me just as much are the human limitations that make certain models required. Why must we see or consider things in a certain way in order to come up with a sound judgment or otherwise good result? And even more- is there something about having all factors in one view? Finally - are these models about simplification or are they about focus and concentration?
One of the best models that illustrates the need for having things in one view is Mica Endsley’s model of situation awareness in dynamic decision making.
At its core, the model holds that an individual must do three things in order to make a decision - and in this case it's fly an aircraft. First, he has to perceive all of the elements in the situation - what they are, where they are, etc. Next he must comprehend that they all fit into a framework or model- often this comes from instruction or experience. Finally he must be able to project what's going to happen next in order to make a decision about what to do. Those familiar with John Boyd’s ideas will recognize that Endsley’s core represents the Observe-Orient part of his famous loop. The decision maker needs to gather all factors into one view in order to understand the patterns and frameworks about what's happening.
I come across this need to see everything in one view in the Green Beret Detachment Mission Planning Process as well. During the Course of Action (COA) Comparison step, the detachment summarizes each possible COA into one view and judges them on their advantages and drawbacks. Here’s a template on how that’s done:
Included are a graphic representation of the most important parts of an operation surrounded by times, organization, logistics, communication and the overall intent. Nearly every defining factor is represented for consideration and comparison. A team, when determining which path to take, would usually line up three of these and rate them to determine the best one.
Where I think this human need to bring everything into one view gets really interesting is in a creative process. Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday have a method when writing a book where they capture each concept or quote onto a 3x5 index card and use them to make a point or illustrate a concept. Or there's the way Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte configure Post-It notes when assembling a presentation. Again though - it’s about seeing the gestalt in order to recognize or understand frameworks and patterns, and then determine what’s next.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Is this why we have so many dashboards now - to filter out all the excess information and just focus on the relevant? And if these models work so well, how can we build new ones to fit more of the decisions we have in our lives?
RESPONSIBILITIES OF VALOR: ‘It’s a Lifelong Burden’: The Mixed Blessing of the Medal of Honor (19 min) “For those who earn it, the medal is a loaded gift. It’s a source of instant celebrity, and an entree into a world of opportunity and adulation. It’s also a reminder of what is often the worst day of their lives. And it is a summons to a lifetime of service from those who did something so courageous as young men—so at odds with their own chances of survival—that it was beyond what duty demands.” (BJM)
MERGING MISSION COMMAND WITH ROBOTS: Army seeks to find mission command concepts for operating Soldiers and robots as effective teams (3 min) “[The Army] is examining how best to maximize the capabilities of robotics through autonomy. This necessitates unobtrusively integrating robotic systems into the intent, trust and understanding cycle so that Soldiers do not have to spend a majority of their focus on operating robotic assets.” “…[The Command of Robotic Systems] directorate is integrating emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies with mission command capabilities to improve Soldiers’ decision-making during the planning, preparation and execution of their missions.” (BJM)
PRECRIME IS NEARLY HERE: This AI Detects Shoplifters Before They Steal, But There's Something Even Creepier About It (4 min) “VAAK, a Japanese startup, has developed artificial intelligence software that can detect suspicious human body language in potential shoplifters. The software, called VAAKEYE, interfaces with security cameras to analyze the movements and behaviors of people as they move throughout the camera's field of view. The software then conveys its suspicions to staff via an app.The goal, VAAK claims, is not arrest, but prevention. Once alerted, staff can approach the individual and ask if they need any help: a well-known deterrent for most potential shoplifters. VAAK has already proven its product's efficacy: according to Bloomberg Quint, the company made headlines last year when the system detected a shoplifter in a Yokohama convenience store where VAAKEYE was being tested. The suspect was arrested a few days later. ” (KSA)
THE JUNIOR EXEC WITH CPP: Boss-haters spoil the team.
Chris here: It’s easy to hate the boss and blame him or her for the problems inside the company. Good ones typically will take responsibility for everything under their control, but moaning about a bad boss is a fast way to earn enemies and bore your teammates. ‘Managing up’ can also mean compensating for weak leadership; good teams watch each other’s blind spots and back each other up. The fastest way to become indispensable – and earn your team's respect – is to recognize where your strengths complement their weaknesses.
Remarks Complete. Nothing Follows.
KS Anthony (KSA), Chris Papasadero (CPP) & Brady Moore (BJM)