This is great, patient, and clear exegesis of core stuff, thanks Ivo.

One of the things I took from my work with Systems Leadership Theory is the critical distinction between what I think they call 'unification systems' and systems of 'distinction' or 'differentiation', that is 'systems' (in this case processes, procedures etc) which bring everyone in an organisation into commonality, and those which separate some people off from others. Typical examples of the latter are selection of people for 'high potential' programmes or a management group, or distinction into functional teams. And typically you have to select your differentiation moves carefully to create maximum autonomy while maintaining sufficient cohesion.

The other critical input, which you touch on in this piece, is that any given system can be capable of being judged either negatively or positively depending on the person or group judging (and, in SLT terms, their core 'gut' moral judgement). So a system of distinction with, say, a hierarchy of command and control might alienate some people but make others feel very much part of the whole (even if not top of the hierarchy). (And a flat hierarchy can easily breed group dynamics of distinction).

I just wanted to make that link here - and to open the question of how you get the feedback from people about what's really going on, else assumptions from those using these tools of cohesion (and autonomy) might be wrong in practice.

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How would such distinctions work in systems that are not organizations, for example in networks such as a transport network or a microblogging network? Or for the whole world wide web?

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systems of inclusion and exclusion is another, more pointed, way I've heard the same thing discussed

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