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Building Our Mental Palaces

  1. Decide how you structure your individual palaces. Ideally you know your mental palace fairly well. You can use both real places or imaginary places, if you really liked Inception. I, for example, use a different individual building on campus by class—for example, LEAD is in Baker, with the different sections of the reading room serving as areas for the different modules and individual tables containing single cases.

  2. Add images as you go case by case. I will try to transfer the 2-3 main insights from the case discussion to my mental palace every day. This process takes a bit of creativity, as facts, frameworks and statements need to be converted into images. Pictures of the case protagonist and products usually are a good starting point for a simple and memorable short scene.

  3. Make facts and statements as vivid as possible. If the case is very framework-heavy and conceptual, it can get harder to come up with an image. Even then, I would try to avoid storing frameworks/formulas as only pictures in the mental palace. When it is difficult  to remember something, I usually lean on the strongest emotions and most bizarre image possible.

  4. Take some notes and revisit from time to time. I tend to write down the insight with the basic images in a Google doc with a simple blueprint of the mental palace. Although the idea is to not refer back to any notes at all, the manifestation of the images still takes some time and repetition—I encourage you to read up on the idea of “forgetting curve" to learn more about this method.A few  months into my RC journey I am thankful to have rediscovered these tools to navigate the academic journey of HBS. I did learn that the promised transformation has many nuances, but I am happy that my sloppy memory receives some support from the mental palaces I have built. While all of this may sound very cumbersome (and arguably a bit crazy), I dare you to give it a try for a week’s worth of cases. Perhaps it will  become a great study tool for your exams or  perhaps it will be an even greater asset beyond. Moreover, wouldn't it be nice to remember what particular thoughts transformed you during your academic journey at HBS? To encounter a challenge in your business and refer to your mental palace of case learnings to decide what to do or even more importantly, what not to do?

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