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The fundamental (system-theoretical) definition of (system) directing is a reduction of difference (hunger >> eating, workload >> pause, many complaints >> increase in quality). This distinguishes itself from the usual understanding that regards directing as a planned and linear activity for reaching a chosen and desired goal.

This is because when all (sub) systems reduce their differences at the same time, one is constantly changing more than one knows, wants and can plan for. Thus, each directing is always reflexive and circular. If one fills out questionnaires about controlling, this directs controlling. If one knows that one needs to save 20% during budget negotiations, one will suggest 20% in advance. Complex systems cannot be directed mono-causally, because one cannot process all possible differences and the processing creates new and other differences somewhere else every day.

In order to direct themselves, systems must

  • shield themselves sufficiently from other influences,
  • select, sufficiently, things that they can have an effect on,
  • sufficiently establish motivating differences,
  • pay sufficient attention to the repercussions of their actions in the system and (!) the environment

None of the points is functional without the others. Without sufficient shielding, being ‘bogged down’ follows, without choosing limited foci, overload follows, without motivation, ineffectiveness follows and without evaluation of consequences, there is blind fixation.

Each of the points requires a decision and can, therefore, also and always be criticised.