A culture is not a product. It is the emergent outcome of behaviors and attitudes, driven by underlying values and the processes, structures, systems, and habits that inform and are informed by them.
Culture pivots on an axis of norms. It is a fickle, complex system- a climate that churns and is churned by sub-climates of communities and the nested sub-climates of every member’s internal, mental and emotional atmospheres. It is metaphysical- more than merely the sum of its parts. It is amorphous and muti-dimensional- different in character to different observers. It must be probed to be understood, and every measurement reflects only a past state.
Culture is a process- an unfolding event. Culture is a river, and “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man” (Heraclitus)
There is no “complete” culture. It is an endless work in progress- a Sisyphean task.
Culture is infectious. It is space-filling. It is catching. It is a weeping angel, always in aggressive motion when unobserved. Don’t blink.
Culture is resilient. It snaps back. It recovers, and wakes from death.
It is an organism. A symbiote. A host to human parasites. A parasite to human hosts.
A culture can’t be designed. It can’t be installed, implemented, employed, or executed. It can’t be manufactured and retrofit onto old structures. It can’t be trained. It can’t be ordered or offered or requested. It can’t be anticipated, foretold, or forecast.
A culture can only be nurtured, encouraged, fostered, and fed. It can be nudged and coaxed to follow, like a twisting vine climbing a lattice towards sunlight.
Culture is complex. Excessive constraint will nudge it into chaos.
Excessive authority will tempt it into petulance.
In the absence of alignment to a common set of values, culture is an infection, an infestation, an insurgency.
When we are a community, aligned to a common purpose; when each of us is invested, present, candid, transparent, and truly ourselves; when we have interpersonal and institutional trust; when we have purpose, autonomy, and ownership; then culture is simply the air between us, filling each of our lungs in turns.