The Culture Game

I’m running a multi day event next week, centred around a Culture Game: the premise is that i’l create a scaffolding for people to use to ‘invent’ a culture, and we will then explore how the different cultures interact. The game is played across four sessions: first we explore IDENTITY, followed by VALUES, then we visit each others culture, before finally going to war with them.

Organisational Culture

I’ll share a quick overview of how each part of the game works.

In the first stage, we look at what culture means (primary cultural identity), how people join (totems, tokens, artefacts and rituals), and how identity is created (Dominant Narratives). The group carry out activities to build their culture, some examples of which include:

  • Making a flag
  • Writing your values
  • Making up a ‘welcome’ ritual
  • Inventing some acronyms
  • Drawing a logo
  • Setting some rules
  • Electing a leader
  • Claiming a space

At the second stage, they effectively consider what that culture will enable them to do, and why. Culture is essentially a common consensual delusion: it’s a view held in the minds of many, but those collective views create a space to operate, or act to constrain competing, or dissenting, voices.

  • What is your culture uniquely able to do?
  • What would your culture struggle to do?
  • Who owns your culture?
  • How will you change it?

With this shaped up, we visit between cultures: the groups induct each other, and also explain the limits of freedom.

  • Welcome them by ritual
  • Gift them something
  • Induct them
  • Illustrate a limits of freedom:
  • What is forbidden?
  • Which stories are silenced?

The final section is the hardest: we pit the cultures against each other in Culture War.

Throughout the two days, i will work with the group to capture their culture on a graffiti wall: in Culture Wars, we create a chaotic scene where they battle the different cultures out, and explore how, within a global context, the reality of most Organisations is exactly this: that they maintain a notion of a unified culture, but in fact operate as multiple, local, fragmented and divided ones.

Culture is a fascinating space to explore: for this work, i’m drawing upon the Landscape of Trust research (which provides insight into cultural alignment, and conflict), as well as the Conditions for Community work, which reinforces the location based aspects of culture, and questions of territoriality, exclusivity, and exclusion.

I’ve not shared all the details of the game here (in case any of my diligent Explorers read it in advance! But i will share a perspective afterwards, as i iterate it to the next edition.

About julianstodd

Author and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the Social Age. I’ve written ten books, and over 2,000 articles, and still learning...
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2 Responses to The Culture Game

  1. mmasarech says:

    Oh my, Julian!
    When I read this I was reminded of the project that brought me to BlessingWhite in 2000 – creating experiences and tools based the book Clicks and Mortar by Terry Pearce and Dave Pottruck. It was all about values-driven culture – how to build/reinforce it as leaders.
    Terry (who also wrote Leading Out Loud) died in August, and I’m heading to California next week for his memorial. I have been thinking a lot about our work together. (It is no longer a big part of what we do.)
    I can’t wait to hear more about your experience next week.
    Thank you for the generosity with which you share your ideas.
    Kind regards,
    Mary Ann

    MA Masarech

    +1 203.521.7766 | Skype: mmasarech | e: mmasarech@gpstrategies.com
    P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

  2. Pingback: A Vision of Culture | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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