OPINION30 May 2018

View from Silicon Valley

x Sponsored content on Research Live and in Impact magazine is editorially independent.
Find out more about advertising and sponsorship.

Behavioural economics Impact Opinion

Thinking of research in terms of the ‘jobs to be done’ mental model could help researchers differentiate themselves from the competition, says Matt Taylor, in the latest instalment of his View from Silicon Valley series.


You can’t spend more than a few weeks in the Bay Area of San Francisco without hearing the phrase ‘mental model’ being thrown around. You’ll find countless articles on LinkedIn and in the tech press telling you how to retrain your brain to adopt some new, mysterious, mental models for everything from AI to Inbox Zero.

If you unbundle the jargon, however, they’re actually easy and useful. They are simply ideas of how particular concepts or systems work. For example, supply and demand would be a mental model for explaining how economies work. Similarly, the theory of a distributed ledger will help you understand how cryptocurrencies work.

Of course, even Stephen Hawking failed to discover a ‘theory of everything’, so there’s never just one model that will work. The idea is that, by learning a few of these individual models – and stitching them together – you can understand better how an industry really works.

Now, a ...