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Organizing Strategy: A Mental Models Cookbook

By Juan Carlos

The Setup

Determining a strategy to implement requires forward-thinking, understanding the field’s landscape, and keeping the long game in mind. One of the most challenging parts is coming to a problem with an open mind, recognizing who is the team’s expert, and taking in new information.

The Approach

  • Start by mapping out what factors drive success and where the most effort is made on similar initiatives.
  • Consider the expertise of folks on the team, and value their competence and voice appropriately.
  • Bias plays a role in convictions, and it’s wise to challenge them when new information is available.
  • Model out possible scenarios and players in the industry to understand potential outcomes.
  • Think about how to grow an initiative organically.

​The Latticework

  • Pareto Principle assesses what factors drive a given circumstance and how one should approach resource allocation.
  • Circle of Competence forces you to determine what you know and don’t.
  • Bayes’ Theorem helps you consider your biases and rethink your assumptions when new data is available.
  • Game Theory allows you to model how people make decisions in different circumstances.
  • Network Effects organically grow the number of users by valuing their interaction.

​The Deep Dive

Pareto Principle
An observation that almost everything in the world has an uneven distribution — 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. The principle applies to numerous circumstances such as 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. The connection between inputs and outputs is not equivalent, and that is actionable. By assessing what factors are driving a given circumstance, one can better approach resource allocation. For example, if 20% of customers cause 80% of support tickets, solving their pain points becomes a priority. You stand to gain more satisfied customers and productive teams due to identifying the principle in action and then alleviating its negative consequences.

Circle of Competence
Individuals gain knowledge by studying or experiencing the world. Knowing where your competencies are and where they are not is crucial to understanding what problems you can solve and which ones you’ll need to ask for help. By identifying your areas of expertise, one can determine where they have an advantage. Working within a circle of competence gives you an unfair advantage with access to more information, which allows you to narrow your options and ultimately make better decisions.

Bayes’ Theorem
A mathematical formula to evaluate anything in probabilities based on all the available data, rather than one’s own biases. The key to Bayesian thinking is your capacity to attach probabilities of accuracy to something you believe to be true. Then, as you receive new data, to update those probabilities and change your mind where necessary. Folks often welcome or refuse new information without reflection, whereas a Bayesian would consider new evidence against their original conclusion. 

Game Theory
It represents how individuals should make decisions and how people make them. Game theory observes the interactions among two or more rational players and converts them into mathematical models. A game, in this case, refers to the circumstances surrounding two or more players’ actions. Players are a decision-maker in a game.The strategy is a predictable set of player interactions concerning the game’s circumstances. The theory then describes the individuals in the model and their predictable interactions. Game theory is used to examine, predict, and explain a broad range of behaviors. Today, the concept is an umbrella term for the science of rational decision-making in animals, humans, and computers.

Network Effects
Network effects are the often positive value and sometimes negative impact existing users experience when other users join a service or product. Also known as demand-side economies of scale or network externalities, when a network adds a new user, it can increase the value for everyone using it and concurrently motivate non-users to join.

Hi, I’m
Juan Carlos

I’m a creator at heart, a filmmaker by instinct, and a polymath who thrives on diversity. My life’s work is about framing: capturing, exploring, and sometimes breaking conventional boundaries to uncover deeper truths.

My Story

From directing award-winning films to leading product innovation at startups, my career spans the creative and the analytical. I’ve authored children’s books under desert skies, each designed to spark curiosity and independent thought in young minds. Whether through technology that simplifies complex issues or through mental models that enhance clarity, I constantly strive to reimagine how we perceive and interact with the world.

In my personal life, I’m a father fascinated by nature and humanity’s marvels. I share this wonder with my children as we explore the world’s beauty together. Every day offers a new frame, reminding us that what we focus on defines our lives’ story.