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Friday 19 April 2013

More about inwardly and outwardly orientated cultures: cultural pull and push

More about inwardly and outwardly orientated cultures: cultural pull and push

This is the last in the current series of posts exploring the dynamics of the Culture Triangle.

See a previous post for descriptions of the above cultures.

Inwardly orientated cultures pull you in

An inwardly orientated culture will seek to pull potential supporters and stakeholders inward. It will then find ways to incorporate them advantageously into the internal networks of its organisation, projects and partnerships. A dynamic entrepreneurial business, such as an IT or software company, will behave in this way. It will scan its environment for people and organisations that could add value to its business and then encourage them to engage with its processes, products and services. This enriches its network of relationships, helps to enhance its processes, products and services and increases its influence within its sphere of activity.              

The stakeholders an inwardly orientated culture seeks to pull towards itself will not always be supporters. For example, when a past Mayor of New York wanted to legalise gay marriage he made a point of inviting one of the most significant critics of the idea, a powerful religious organisation, into the relevant consultations and working groups. Having been drawn into the initiative and having had meaningful opportunities to air their views and influence developments, the organisation found it increasingly difficult to continue opposing gay marriage without being perceived as unreasonable or out of touch with current opinion. In this way the Mayor's Office not only enriched its network with diverse and opposing views but also increased its ability to influence and manage them.

So, the preference of political cultures is to pull inwards. Artistic and functional cultures will also do this from time to time. 

Outwardly orientated cultures push towards you

Whereas an inwardly orientated culture will seek to pull people and organisations towards itself, so enriching its internal relationships, growing its network and increasing its power and influence, an outwardly orientated culture will seek to push itself outwards towards the people and organisations that could act as conduits through which its support and services can reach those in need, so increasing the scope and depth of its activity.  

Incorporating these people and organisations too closely into internal networks and relationships would make them less effective as conduits. For example, an organisation providing learning opportunities to disadvantaged or hard to reach young people will piggyback upon the existing networks and resources of local religious, community and sports groups in order to advertise and increase the accessibility of its services. The independence, unique identities and local reputations of these groups are what make them valuable. If someone is happy using services provided by a known and trusted organisation, he or she will be more inclined to take advantage of the supplementary services available from other less well-known providers associated with it.

The individuals and organisations that an outwardly orientated culture will use as conduits can be very diverse and sometimes unexpected, from the faith and sports groups mentioned above to rock stars and other celebrities. The United Nations uses globally recognisable film stars to promote its initiatives and services because it knows its messages will be more readily accepted from trusted and popular actors than from unknown politicians or bureaucrats from a distant, inaccessible and perhaps intimidating organisation.

So, the preference of passionate, pragmatic and expert cultures is to push outwards. Artistic and functional cultures will also do this from time to time.

Click here to read the first post in the series.

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