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When cultures fail

When cultures fail

Culture binds a person's identity to the meanings that surround them. This is a dueling affair. Meanings come from activities of the mind and body - actions, relations, habits and purposes.

Some of us will create new culture by infusing new meanings into our culture. This comes what we accomplish in the periphery of our culture - activities that are allowed, but not commonly encouraged, appreciated, or looked upon as worthy of attention.

But it will be easier for most of us to simply take our identity from the culture instead, and change ourselves over time to fit well into it. What starts in childhood becomes a silent force, hard to disengage from. This is fine, since we shouldn't be spending effort in resisting our nearest neighborhood in the universe of meanings.

But some of us move to a different culture by way of  ideas space, work, travel or social factors, both push and pull. When we thus migrate from one culture to another, we see new and different …
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There are great organizations that do this well, and they use "modern" IT principles to achieve this.

Fundamental to engineering a modern IT (or infrastructure organization) are the three roles of Architecture, Engineering and Operations. Some would say Architecture is encoded Engineering-history, but for now, we will keep them separate.

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Every day is an interview day

Over time, most organizations descend to the mean. What happens in such cases is slow and simple: people start taking things as if they are entitled - to the culture, to their right to define culture, and to their special right to understand how the company works.

This is not a designed event.

It happens gradually as people become comfortable with their success.

It is also a result of the very factors that made the place extraordinary in the first place.

Extraordinary results come from founders and their mindset that is coded into behaviors that reinforce each other: scale that comes from a shared understanding; the understanding that forms a culture; culture that drives the quality of interactions;  quality of interactions that result in people being friends with co-workers (and vice-versa); the natural give-and-take of social norms that becomes the unwritten cookbook.

Without care, these very same factors become a potential place of stasis.

What happens cannot be noticed easily.


How transformation/change could be hard - an analogy from Life

The illusion of steady change
Most changes are gradual. Or it appears to be, as you read stories and narratives about successful people. Be it successful CEOs, scientists, artists, startup founders, you name it -- almost every one who has reached a state of success, it seems, has had a steady run of successes.

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But we all know this is not true. Otherwise, we'd be doing more of what we do best, every day.

What is it that can explain great changes? It is a transformation. Yes, it has gradual bits and habits thrown in. But in the end, they were ready to transform themselves. They were ready to re-work their brains, bodies and life into a new combination.

Example from the chemistry of Life
There is an example in Life that may shed some light. Treat this as an analogy, but it has some lessons.

To illustrate, …

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With such diverse sources, things don't happen in time, they simply surface like infinite waves in an ever present ocean.

This is the side of a communications utopia that we wanted but not quite anticipated.

You dip your sense into this ocean and scoop up a sea of things to do, and ideas to think about.

Your mental near field is an idea forest.

Its far-field is receding farther as you move faster towards it.

Abundant, yet mercurial, filling, but unfinished, pointed, yet leading to aimless frittering of your time. It seems that those magical pyramidal neurons have caught their idea virus and are unable to rest. Time passes, yet there is no end in sight.

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