An aim is a point in time-space towards which the system moves.
An aim is a desired value. It is a bit of ethos that is projected into the future to be attained. For example, my ethos contains the value of beauty which influences everything I do.Occasionally, it becomes an aim for a project like beautifying the house (i.e. redecorating) or wardrobe (i.e. make-over). After the aim is achieved, the value reverts back to ethos (i.e. how to do things) rather than describing a “what” (or outcome).
Biomatrix theory suggests that all systems are teleonic, meaning that their activities are purposeful (i.e. have an aim). This purpose can be evolved (i.e. the system has learned to aim for a specific outcome), emergent (i.e. a new aim arises through the interaction of systems) or designed (i.e. the system deliberately chooses an aim).
Activity systems have a single, overarching aim. Entity systems have multiple aims, one for each of its activity systems, as well as for their interaction and the entity as a whole.
An aim can refer to an end (outcome) or means (strategy) with which to achieve the end. For example, the aim of education could be an end in itself (e.g. to be an educated person) or means to an end (e.g. to earn status or get a better job). It depends on the formulation if the aim is an outcome (end) or a strategy (means).
In the management literature, end aims are typically called goals and objectives, while means aims are referred to as strategies and action steps.
The aims of the different parts of a system need to align or cohere with each other. If they don’t, the system falls apart. The cascading of aims from the entity system (e.g. its mission) into its various activity systems creates alignment. This involves an alternation between ends and means. An end at one level gives rise to means that become ends at the next level.
An aim inspires a system to move towards it. It inspires development.
relevance for the change manager
Discontinuous or conflicting aims can retard the development of a system and even destroy it. Hence it is important to align aims by cascading them through all parts and levels of the system (i.e. spatial cascading) and from a timeless ideal, via long-term objectives and short-term goals (i.e. temporal cascading of aims).