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Loss of Familiarity

The term familiarity was used by N. Luhmann to describe a state within a social system, which finds itself in a ‘known’ world. Such worlds are distinguished by the fact that the future is very similar to the past (little is new), the fluctuation of the communication partners is small (one knows, who one is dealing with), and the complexity of the actual situation is also small (one knows the ways and the houses). It does not require long explanations to understand that such familiar worlds are becoming less and less. But this does not mean that people, therefore, automatically possess the ability for, or can adjust to, what is required, when one constantly has to find one’s way with new futures, new relationships and new problems.

For human beings, a world without certainty is not attractive. The surrender and loss of secure information (“Even science is not that, which it once was and constantly contradicts itself.”), of control (“How the hell does this remote-control function?”) and tested indicators for the giving of trust, are easily overburdened. Organisations and teams, therefore, do well to, on the one hand, not give up islands of familiarity (family photos and a plant on the desk) unnecessarily, and, on the other hand, to train the competence of employees to be able to cope with the unexpected. These competences neither fall from heaven, nor are they currently acquired in the school system.