Amplifying Voices: Let’s Define Culture - Elisa Camahort Page
Amplifying Voices From : Elisa Camahort Page - Professional & Political
Last week I attended the DENT conference in Santa Fe and, given the recent launch of Ternstyle, was drawn to a workshop covering the intersection of technology and culture within organizations. Couldn’t be more relevant to the work we are doing.
The session started by talking about the definitions of the two keywords in the description: Technology and culture. We were each asked to write down our definitions of the two words and then we discussed as a group.
My quick take on the definition of “technology:” At its foundation technology is a tool.
Technology is created by humans to achieve some goal or perform some function. From the very earliest humans figuring out how to create objects to help with their daily lives to today’s humans figuring out how to send rockets ever further into space.
When we discussed as a group we didn’t really improve on this simplest of definitions.
My quick take on the definition of “culture:” How a society or group expresses and conducts itself.
As a group which included folks from various backgrounds, this definition engendered more discussion. An academic at my table shared that the academic definition of culture articulated it as the “values, beliefs, and behaviors” of a society or group.
My quick definition was a little light on the “values and beliefs” aspect, but the academic definition is light on calling out expression. When we go and look at cultures different than our own, historical or not, we aren’t just looking at the facts of their history, their behaviors, our assessment is influenced by the art they leave behind. When people say they want more culture in their lives, they typically mean the arts…music, theatre, fine arts, etc.
So perhaps my less-quick take on the edition would be: How the value and belief systems of a society or group manifest in its actions and expression.
How would you improve? What is missed with that definition? And do you see distinct cultures in your life, whether in your workplace tor other places where you spend time?
Two other quotable quotes and lightbulb thoughts from the session that stuck with me (well, OK, I wrote them down, so they stuck with me because I used the technology of pen and paper to capture them).
1. People tend to say that technology evolves so quickly, but culture is not a static thing. It, too, evolves, just not with the velocity that technology does. Culture follows technology-driven changes, and that transitional period can sometimes be painful.
IOW: Give people, in aggregate, credit. Although progress may sometimes seem to stall or even regress, in general we do move forward.
2.If technology is just tools and what we make of them, then culture is reflected in what problems we are trying to solve with that technology.
IOW: Choices are made every day about the problems tech will tackle. If we’re lucky more people will start trying to tackle global problems, not just incremental efficiencies. This is at the very heart of my guiding principle that Innovation+Empathy>Innovation+Efficiency. Are you happy with the problems tech is being used to solve today? How would you change that?