A mind-set is a set of assumptions that limit and govern thinking.
An alternative term, paradigm, was popular in the 1960s to 1980s. However, it was abandoned as unclear in the 1990s. Even its creator Thomas Kuhn stopped using it. Today it is mostly abused in business philosophy and management theories, which are propaganda in most cases.
The much more specific and useful idea of the mind-set is today used in three distinct circles, with very similar meanings:
- Ecology and systems theory, where it refers mostly to point of view choices that an ecologists or systems designer makes in assessing a system and deciding which metrics to trust. In this sense its clearest definitions were due to Donella Meadows. She noted the extremely high leverage of knowing one's mind-set, and the even higher leverage of being able to change. Her Twelve places to intervene in a system was a famous paper on this issue.
- Military science where it refers mostly to force transformation and doctrine questions, and how these change as military challenges do. A notable use was by Thomas Barnett in the US Naval War College's NewRuleSets project. He characterized the mind-sets of Davos Man and Seattle Man as contrasting attitudes to economic globalization.