Self Evident Truths LO7593

John Woods (
Fri, 24 May 1996 23:17:52 -0500

Replying to LO7565 --

Rol Fessenden and If Price state:

>The assertion is that, though self evident truths may not exist
>individuals and social organisations behave as if they do: that is
>socieities are shaped by their SETs-in-use [which may not be the same as
>their espoused SETS. Both kinds of SETs -- SETs-in-use and espoused SETs
>-- are important in understanding individuals and organizations.

I'd like to make this assertion about the idea of sets in use and espoused
sets (which mean basically what you do and what you say, whether, in
conventional terms, they agree or not): I would say that way we act and
what we assert about the right way to act always agree with one another.
That may sound controversial, but remember this: language is subjective.
There are no objective definitions for our words. So if it seems by your
definition (or even generally accepted definitions) that a person is
acting contrary to his or her espoused views, it is more likely that, to
this individual, the words they speak actually imply the way they behave.
For example, if a manager says "I want to get the most out of my people,"
and then acts in accordance with Theory X behaviors that hold people back,
you can believe for this individual, this is the behavior he believes will
get the most from his people. Or think about the parent who says he loves
his child and then abuses that child. You can pretty well bet that that
person equates love with abuse.

The point is that we need to recognize the subjective nature of our words
and pronouncements and appreciate that our behaviors indicate what we
believe our words mean. People do not behave in ways that are
inconsistent to themselves, even if this behavior seems inconsistent to

If we start from this point with people, that is, we affirm their current
understandings of what's best, and then help them see the results of their
behaviors, they may then make changes needed to get better results. For
example, a manager may come to realize that getting the most from people
means taking actions that empower rather than constrain. Or a parent may
come to see that affirmation rather than abuse is how you help a child
grow and become a psychologically healthy person.

Just some ideas to think about...
John Woods


John Woods <>

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