Pre-mortem: how to anticipate failure with prospective hindsight

Most people are familiar with post-mortem documentation, where team members come together at the conclusion of a project to record what went well and what didn’t. Fewer people have performed a pre-mortem before the start of a project. A pre-mortem is an exercise where we imagine that a project has failed, and where we work …

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How to take a replenishing vacation (or staycation)

A growing body of research shows that taking a vacation is good for your mental health. In a study conducted in the U.S., participants who took vacations twice or more per year were less likely to suffer from tension and depression. Even expecting a holiday break has a positive impact on your general sense of …

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The rational benefits of emotions

Rationality and emotion may seem antithetic. One is objective, the other subjective. One relies on mental models, the other on gut feelings. When it comes to making decisions, we tend to favour the reassuring formal process of rationality over the impulse of our emotions. In school, we are taught how to think better, but rarely …

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How to evaluate the validity and reliability of your mental models

Mental models are shortcuts for reasoning. They are a set of ideas and beliefs that we consciously or unconsciously form based on our experiences to shape our representation of how the world works. While mental models are extremely useful to make decisions in times of uncertainty, they are still shortcuts—which can be harmful if we …

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GPT-3 and the future of human productivity

The idea of artificial intelligence taking over the world is at least as old as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which was published in 1818. Public figures such as Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates have warned us against the reckless creation of superintelligent machines. In June 2020, OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research laboratory based in San Francisco, …

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Temporal discounting: the battle between present and future self

As humans, we tend to favour our present self at the expense of our future self. Our present self will eat an extra piece of cake, skip a training session, drink too much, stay up late, or procrastinate; our future self is left dealing with the consequences. This phenomenon is called temporal discounting. The further …

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From closed mind to open mind

Do you consider yourself an open-minded person? Most people would say yes. Which, paradoxically, shows a form of closed-mindedness by failing to consider your own shortcomings.  Closed-mindedness in the inability or difficulty to consider different ideas or opinions. While it is easy to spot in others, we are all guilty of closed-mindedness depending on the …

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The Dunning–Kruger effect: you don’t know what you don’t know

Why do ignorant folks tend to overestimate the extent of their knowledge? How do incompetent people often seem to be unaware of how deficient their expertise is? Turns out, we are not very good at evaluating ourselves accurately. And one of the most obvious manifestations of this psychological deficiency is the Dunning–Kruger effect, the cognitive …

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Investing into the unknown with Lawrence Yeo

Welcome to this edition of the Mindful Makers interview series, where we go behind the scenes with prolific creators and explore what makes them creative and productive. I’m incredibly excited to chat with Lawrence Yeo, the writer and illustrator of More To That, a blog that delves into what makes humanity so fascinating. I first …

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Managing risk with the NASA Risk Matrix

“It’s not rocket science!” people often say. Well, sometimes, projects can be so complex, making the right decision does feel akin to rocket science. Who better to turn to than one of the biggest space agencies in the world to learn how to manage risk? There are few organisations working on projects as complex as …

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