Collaboration should be productive. But miscommunication, wasted time, and haphazard changes can derail teamwork. If your group needs a reboot, don’t despair. These 3 proven mental models used by top CEOs and psychologists can get collaboration back on track in no time.

Mental Model #1: Conquer the Abilene Paradox to Avoid Bad Group Decisions

Ever leave a meeting feeling like the group decided on something you don’t actually agree with? You’ve experienced the Abilene Paradox.

This phenomenon occurs when a team unanimously takes action that contradicts individual members’ preferences. How does this happen? Fear of rocking the boat or pressure to conform leads to poor decisions.

To break the cycle of bad group choices, make sure everyone feels comfortable expressing opinions. Seek consensus before moving forward. And revisit past choices to reconsider alternatives.

Following this advice prevents the Abilene Paradox from hijacking your team’s judgment. You’ll make decisions based on logic rather than anxiety about agreeing.

Mental Model #2: Harness Parkinson’s Law to Stop Time Suck

Parkinson’s Law states “work expands to fill the time available.” Give your team one hour to brainstorm, and they’ll take the full hour.

Use this tendency to your advantage. Short deadlines laser focus work. Save time by defining tight timeboxes for tasks. This concentrates effort on priorities rather than drag out collaboration.

Apply the 80/20 rule too. 80% of results come from 20% of tasks. Identify and invest effort in high-impact activities. Limit time spent on marginal ones.

Mental Model #3: Understand the Why Before Making Changes

G.K. Chesterton warned against changing something without knowing its purpose. His advice? Don’t remove a fence until you understand why it was built.

Apply this by asking “why” when proposing alterations. Drill down until you unearth the non-obvious rationale. This knowledge prevents “improvements” backfiring.

Collaborating on changes also reduces risk. Few innovations succeed in a bubble. Leverage your team’s diverse perspectives to stress test ideas first.

Reboot Collaboration with These 3 Mental Models

Don’t let frustrating teamwork continue. Equip your group with an upgrade by applying these concepts:

  • Defuse groupthink and bad choices with the Abilene Paradox.
  • Stop busywork and time suck using Parkinson’s Law.
  • Change wisely by understanding the hidden why first.

With these mental models, you’ll collaborate smarter, prevent unnecessary work, and avoid logic-free group choices. Your team will be unstoppable.


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