Cultural Lava

I was talking about the evolution of culture today, trying to explain how culture forms, sets, how new cultures overrun the old. I used some new language, around lava: if you’ve ever seen lava flow, it starts red hot, but as it meets the cold air, the outer layer sets, it slows, crusts over, but as pressure builds, the dark crust cracks, splits, and new lava rolls out, over it.

Cultural Lava

In rapidly scaling organisations, an effect emerges, where the old culture barely has time to settle before being overtaken by new and emergent ones, populated by individuals with new ideas, new behaviours, new values, who are simply never subsumed into the old one.

Organisational culture always runs the risk of stratifying, specifically where one community finds an oppositional strength against a new, emergent one.

The analogy is imperfect, but i rather enjoyed the viscous nature of the flowing lava, the sense that culture is unstoppable, that it does not flow evenly, and most of all, that it’s subsumed by the new.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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2 Responses to Cultural Lava

  1. Pingback: Developing a Prototype Trust Diagnostic | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  2. Pingback: Primary Cultural Alignment | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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