I tend towards a simple view of culture: it’s the ways we are towards each other, every day, aggregated up to an Organisational level. And at some level i believe that to be true.
But at another level, i know it cannot be so simple. If we unpack ‘being’, we see that it is about more than thought and behaviour: it includes the rituals, artefacts, expressions of power, and rule systems, in place, many of which we inherit in a seemingly unchangeable state.
Whilst there is not ‘culture particle’ that resides in the carpets, drifts though the air conditioning, or exists as malware on your computer, there is nonetheless a persistence of culture that is hard to explain.
Logically we could argue that culture should not exist at all: or more precisely, should be relatively undifferentiated between Organisations. Because, after all, people are constantly moving between Organisations, and hence it should average out to zero. Entropy should take us to stone cold.
Yet it does not: because ‘moving’ to a new space requires us, at either a conscious or subconscious level, to ‘fit in’, which is essentially to adopt the rituals and expressions of culture that dominate the space around us.
And so culture persists: not simply as a phenomena that we swim through, but as one that hold us constrained as we try to change.
That is the irony of culture a group social phenomena: even though a majority of individuals may wish it to be different, or for change to happen, something in the ether, our culture, can prevent that from taking place.
Essentially culture is nothing, and yet it is something that hold us entirely within it’s iron grip.