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Guiding Process Handling the Future

The process of organising (=Organisation) determines how the future should be handled: Does the organisation utilise the possible scope for action and try to shape the future by taking risks, or does it tolerate a possible future result by bearing a danger and trusting itself to find an answer, should the need arise? The guiding process handling the future can be summarised in the question: “Should we take a gamble by backing a particular horse – maybe the wrong one – or do we try to deal with the horse, when it arrives in our stable?”. The system-theoretical distinction between risk and danger is unavoidable for the understanding and managing of organisations. All decisions in organisations become necessary, because no one knows the future. Life is dangerous and can only be managed by taking risks. Equally, no organisation can prepare for or influence all eventualities. This would over-extend all material, social and time resources and pre-suppose complete control over its environment. Therefore, an organisation must weigh up what risks to take with its activities and where to bear a danger and then make the best of it. The competences, the consequences and communication requirements in an organisation are, at any one time, very different, so that the guiding distinction must be handled with great care.

Each organisational decision necessarily creates risk takers and danger bearers within the organisation. What might be a sensible, risky decision for one area, is a dangerous undertaking in another area. Risk-danger-conflicts are thus inherent phenomena in organisations.