My dad was a teacher in a primary school, where he grew to be the headmaster. He was a well-respected headmaster and during his long tenure that ended only with his retirement, brought glory to his school. He had found a role model in a senior headmaster of the high school under the same management. But I guess he also learned a lot from his dismal predecessors about what should not be done.

I remember him sharing stories of some of his predecessors. One of them snacked the whole day in his chamber and never was ashamed of eating from lunch boxes of children. He thought drawing money from school funds for his personal use was his right. In fact, he was demoted to make my dad headmaster. He was a total disaster, but there was another more interesting predecessor, Mr. Ambegaokar.

Whenever someone went to Mr. Ambegaokar to get a decision on some matter, his only comment was, “मागे कसं केलं होतं  (How was it done last time)?” Apparently, Mr. Ambegaokar served his entire career just with this simple decision-making model! My dad and his colleagues were annoyed by his lackluster leadership.

I know it’s not easy to avoid status-quo thinking, but most of us at least try to have a fresh look at the problem and to see how to solve it better. But Mr. Ambegaokar blatantly stuck to the status quo.

Recently I read a wonderful compilation of Ravinkant Naval’s wisdom. Naval calls this a lousy way of decision-making. In his own words, “During decision-making, the brain is a memory prediction machine. A lousy way to do memory prediction is “X happened in the past, therefore X will happen in the future.”

We can only imagine how critical is decision making for him being a startup investor. His advice is to learn mental models from smart people and also build our own models based on our own experience. I think this gives a very deterministic approach to avoid status quo thinking and do the outside-the-box thinking.

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