C word, Sparking curiosity

[From Dag Forssell (931003 1400) Rick Marken (931002.0830)

This is a beautifully written, "humanistic" description of
"control". I can think of no improvements.

Thanks, a welcome comment, even if it does not help. I came up
with improvements myself, though. See below.


Bob Clark (931002 5:30 pm EDT)

Dag, I think you have forgotten your own objective -- to sell your
training program.

"CONTROL" is not really what you are intending to sell. As you
have found, "Control" has too many undesired connotations.


Can't you use your own analysis to help sell your program? After
all, you are advocating working with the interests and goals of
the "other person" in developing a cooperative relationship to
your mutual advantage. What are the goals of your prospective

How about:
                     Perceptual Control Theory"

Perhaps this will help you develop a broader view, consistent with
your general purposes.

I think you have a very good point. Getting suggestions sure is
stimulating. I will incorporate your suggestion with a few
transformations. PCT is not about corporate leadership. It is about
people. Corporate is not the point. I mention organizations, in
order to make it more general, but organizations are not the point
either. Perceptual Control Theory is introduced in the abstract,
About the author and in the body. The new heading becomes:


As an aside, I might mention that the editor of ENGINEERING
MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, which will publish this article in their
December issue, found the article of interest in part because he saw
that it provided a "different perspective". He was inspired in part
by the book: "Multiple Perspectives in Decision Making" by
Lindstone, or something like that. (I have yet to look it up in our
local library).

Your discussion of "Control," while excellent for some purposes,
does not fit this paper very well.

This is debatable. It may fit one overriding purpose superbly:
Getting the reader to recognize that this article is about her, by
allowing her to recognize herself.

I think it fits quite well, following right after the introduction
where control is introduced and before results. It may be a little
redundant with what comes later, but if it helps to hook the
interest, that should be OK. I have extended it with the indented
section about stress. I believe this will help readers see that
this is about them, personally:


   People dislike the word "control." To many, it is synonymous
   with manipulation and coercion. This is due to an incomplete
   understanding of what the process of control is. A complete
   understanding of control shows how to eliminate manipulation.

   Control is a pervasive natural phenomenon which has not been
   clearly described until well into this century. When you
   understand control and know what to look for, you can observe
   control processes in the behavior of single cell organisms,
   plants and animals all around you, all the time.

   To control means to influence your environment so that you
   perceive the environment the way you want to perceive it,
   according to some specification, want or goal you set. To
   survive, an organism must control several aspects of its
   environment successfully.

   You eat to influence your blood sugar level until your
   perception of it agrees with your specification for it. You
   pull the cover tighter on a cold night to influence the
   temperature of your skin so that it agrees with the warmth you
   want to feel. You work to influence your environment in many
   ways until your perceptions are to your liking. When they are,
   you call yourself content or satisfied. Added: When you cannot
      influence your environment effectively, you experience stress.
      This may be due to an inability to act, because you want
      incompatible things at the same time, or due to conflict with
      someone else who influences the same aspect of your common
      environment, but with a different goal.

   All behaviors are part of control processes. Our actions
   influence some aspect of the world as we perceive it. The word
   control is appropriate to describe the process. Control is
   necessary for life. Good control of one's own environment is
   satisfying. Control of one's environment by way of physical
   coercion and threats to others may be satisfying to one self,
   but is certainly not to the other. Thus the general dislike of
   control. An understanding of control shows us how to control
   well to satisfy our own wants without violating the rights of
   others to control and satisfy theirs. An understanding of
   control enables us to develop productive and satisfying

I read this yesterday to an innocent acquaintance who came by. He
had no problem understanding as I read, and zeroed in on his own
work related conflicts when I read the added section. We discussed
his error signals and techniques for 10 minutes.

Bob, you are right. The objective is to sell the training program.
I am reminded that busy executives will only give you a brief
moment of attention when you solicit them cold. The challenge is to
tie into some error signal quickly. To that end I have composed and
plan to send many executives the following one page letter, which
has been blessed by my sales training friend Mike Bosworth as being

Robert Kenley Clark, CEO October 3, 1993
Acme Industries International
834 Holyoke Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45240

Dear Mr. Clark:

Because we lack a theory of human behavior that actually fits the
way human beings work, running a company, department or team is
more difficult than it needs to be. Top executives set policy and
financial goals for the company, but to make them come true, people
must function and interact at all levels and in all areas of the

Executives are often frustrated with associates who don't commit
themselves to do the job that is required and don't stay motivated
on a lengthy project, with associates who don't pull their weight
in a team, or with implementation of TQM. Managers may be
uncomfortable with conflicts, with performance reviews, or with
personal selling.

Most executives are satisfied with what they have learned about
people from a lifetime of experience. They don't notice the
absence of explanatory principles (meaning laws of nature, as in
the physical sciences) in their own conclusions, in explanations of
cultural differences, or in leadership training programs. The best
contemporary leadership programs, such as Dr. Stephen R. Covey's _7
Habits of Highly Effective People_ or Dr. W. Edwards Deming's _The
Deming Management Philosophy_ can only offer principles (meaning
rules of conduct) based on experience. They do not offer
explanatory principles. Rules of conduct will be interpreted
differently by each individual, making consistent management hard
to attain in an organization.

If there were a way to give your executives the capability to deal
with all the issues mentioned above, with explanatory principles
from which they can derive rules for each situation, would you be

We would like an opportunity to show you how.


Dag Forssell

To learn more, please call or fax this letter back to us.

Some very small percentage will be curious about what we can do
about their frustration - the issues delineated in the second
paragraph. It is not our intention to spell out our solution in the
letter, just to indicate that we can give them a capability to
handle their own error signals themselves. (This to manage their
expectations; we will not promise to solve their problems for
them). If they have an error signal, they will ask. The article is
one of the possible ways to follow up a request for information. It
gives them something they can read on an airplane, before they ask
more questions. The article therefore is not intended (by me) to be
only an dispassionate academic exercise. It should provide enough
sensible, challenging information to inspire a request for more
information still.

Bob, as before, thanks for your comment.

Best, Dag