Tuesday, November 30, 2021


 Garry Kasparov was World Chess Champion for 15 years. He attributed his success to many factors, key of which was his preference for Systems mindset as against Outcome mindset.

How did Systems mindset work ?
e.g. Moving Rook to F6 lost the chess game.

Outcome mindset = "Don't do Rook to F6 again".

Systems mindset = "What was the decision process behind the move ? What was the mental routines that occurred before I made that decision? Don't do them again"
(Adapted from the book: Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries)

This principle applies broadly. Here are 2 examples:
1. Abhinav Bindra (Olympic Gold medalist, 10 m Air Rifle Shooting) came a disappointed 7th in 2004 Athens Olympics. He started to discover the reasons why couldn't win a medal (applying Outcome mindset) and figured out that the lane position he was allotted had a loose tile underfoot, which reverberated every time he shot. In a game of micrometers, this led him to lose accuracy and precision. Taking full ownership (and applying Systems mindset) to prevent this from happening again, Abhinav started what he calls as his quest for adaptability- to try and be perfect on an imperfect day. He started training under deliberately imperfect conditions, even installing a lose tile in his home range and practicing regularly while standing on it. He trained under low lights and bright lights, adjusted bulbs and added peculiar shadows and many such imperfections. He ended up winning Gold in the same event in 2008 Olympics.

2. In Organizations, when a failure happens:
- The weakest teams don't analyze failure at all.
- Teams with an outcome mindset, analyze why a project or strategy failed. e.g. The product did not stand out enough from competitors’ products.
- Teams with systems mindset, probe the decision-making process behind a failure. e.g. How did we arrive at that decision? Did we not have ideal skills ? Do we need more training ?

To summarize:
Outcome mindset prevents you from making that ONE mistake again.
Systems mindset prevents you from using the mental models that caused that mistake and prevents 100s of potential mistakes.

If you enjoyed reading this, you will like some ideas in this thread (https://bit.ly/3lLoniR) that beautifully summarizes some of the mental models used by Tobi Lutke. Check my sketchnote for details.

What are some of the mental models that have helped you in your life's journey ?

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