“He’s got an ugly girlfriend and an ugly girlfriend means no confidence.”
Yes, this line was actually uttered by a scout in assessing the potential of a baseball player.
The line comes from the film Moneyball. It's an adaptation of the Michael Lewis book of the same name. Both recount the transition from the judgement of scouts to the use of data and algorithms to predicate future ballers.
This shockingly judgemental line was one of many spoken in the early stages of the film.
What the film—and the book exposes in dramatic fashion is how flawed our judgements can be. We let our biases and perceived flaws in others cloud our judgement. Some of us (not all, I’m glad to say) will use subjective opinions like beauty to grade our views of another person. It might sound extreme, but this type of subjective thinking happens all the time.
Let’s bring it back to our area of concern—decision-making.
The starting point of every decision is information. Your job is to assess the information you have and make a judgement call on it.
But not all information is the same. Some of it is true. Some of it is false. Most of it will be incomplete. Some of it will be of opinions riddled with bias and flawed assumptions which may or may not be correct. Hell, is it any wonder we make decisions that turn out to be incorrect?
The processing of information is one of the most underappreciated steps in decision-making. We don’t have the luxury of using algorithms to make judgements based on factual data. It means we have to mentally process the information in front of us as best we can.
The good news is we can move beyond the subjective approach highlighted earlier.
It’s why we should seek to understand mental models. When you begin to break down these frameworks, you find different ways of processing information. Think of razors for a minute. They provide a rule that allows us to remove unlikely explanations.
It is a filter for processing information efficiently.
Other mental models can help us in similar ways. Take problems; a problem is a piece of information where the outcome isn’t as expected. Inversion lets us approach this information from a counter-intuitive direction. It often reveals obstacles that are the cause of the problem.
Escape the trap of a subjective lens and look to use mental models, razors and the like to get to the truth.
It is the first step to getting the outcome you want.