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A Study of Mental Models

Peter Senge (2006) describes a mental model as a “deeply engrained assumption, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we
understand the world and how we take action” (p. 8). People with a different mental model can see the same issue or event and describe it completely
differently, as seen in the Sufi parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant. In this tale, there are six blind men examining an elephant for the very first time.
Each develops a very different mental model of what an elephant is. The following is a summary of the story:
Six blind men encountered an elephant for the first time. Each inspected the elephant by touching it. They then described it based on what they felt. The first
person touched the elephant’s trunk and said, “This animal is like a snake.” The next, whose hand touched the elephant’s ear, claimed it is like a rug. The third
person, whose hand touched its leg, said, “The elephant is a like a tree.” The fourth, who placed his hand upon its side, said “This is a wall.” The fifth, who felt
its tail, described the elephant as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is hard, smooth, and shaped like a spear.
To prepare for this Discussion:
Review the resources in the Mental Models area of this week’s Learning Resources.
Consider some of the mental models that you have and some that you have seen in others in your professional or personal life.
By Day 3
Post an analysis of the impact of individual perceptions on problem solving and decision making. In your analysis, do the following:
Describe at least two mental models that you personally have that differ from those of a colleague, family member, or friend.
Examine how these mental models have affected your interactions with your colleague, family member, or friend and what actions you took or could have
taken to address these differences.
Explain how understanding mental models can help you become a better problem solver and decision maker.

Sample Solution

Masculinity: It means to see whether emphasis is on achievement and earning. Indonesia scores low on the masculinity as compared to Australia and New Zealand that means Asian people that they prefer quality of life and not run after material things like money while in western countries during work they give high priority to the work if they have set some deadlines they tend to achieve it on the specific time. • Uncertainty Avoidance: It means to measure how people reacts to the unseen situations. Indonesia scores less on the uncertainty avoidance as compared to Australia and New Zealand. Indonesian believes that uncertainty is common in business and they do not take stress. They believe that managers should not use bad language for the staff they should overcome difficult situations with themselves and try to keep smiling how angry they are inside. While in western countries concept is opposite, managers become furious if they see unseen situations like targets are not met within deadlines. • Long term orientation: These organisations generally looks towards achieving long term objectives they are generally future oriented. Indonesian culture is long term oriented, it believes on maintaining relationship and assume that employee will remain within the company for long period, while in western countries short term orientation culture is adopted. They feel that time is precious. • Indulgence: It means how people control their own desires and children are socialised towards society. Indonesian have low indulgence as compared to Australia and New Zealand that means Indonesian people do not prefer leisure time and have control on their desires. Section 2 Indonesia Archipalego: Indonesian archipelago is unique in terms of Asia because it has many islands and having more than 245 million population and majority of the population here is Muslim. Its culture is ethnically diverse and increasingly have urbanised population (Naafs 2013). • Economic Structure: Indonesia Economy 2011 defines that every country has different economic systems. Initially Indonesia adopted liberal economic system in which communities perform economic activities. Thereafter socialist economic system came into existence, but in the new era socialist economic system again transformed into democracy economic system. This system continued until reformation and after reformation economic system based on social economy was adopted by government and still prevails in the Indonesia. Indonesian economy has seen very up and downs in the last few decades and it mostly depends upon the agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors. Agriculture is the primary sector, manufacturing comes on the secondary level and service sector is on the tertiary level (Indonesia economic structure 2010) • Religion: Indonesia investments defines that six religions are recognised officiall
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