Is it possible to design culture?

At the upstream end of the river of design — before we conceive of systems, products, processes and services — we find the worldview, the value systems, and the story we tell about who we are, what we are here for, what is worth striving for, and what success would look like.

As innately meaning seeking creatures we live by story. To change the dominant worldview and value systems that informs our behaviour is to change the meta-design that affects all other design decisions down stream.

But, is it really possible to engage in culture design?

The answer to that questions points at a paradox.

On the one hand culture emerges from the complex dynamics within socio-ecological-systems. As with all complex dynamic systems, what exactly emerges cannot be predicted and controlled with certainty.

On the other hand, we all contribute every day to the emergence of the cultures we participate in, by our actions and inactions. It emerges from the sum total of our interactions and communications — out of our individual and collective agency as cultural creatives (whether we are conscious of that agency or not).

The beliefs we hold, what we value, where we spend the money we have, and most of all by the way we behave towards ourselves, our human community and towards the rest of the community of life — all of this contributes to the emergence of the cultures we live in.

In turn, these cultures condition the way we see the world and what we focus on, the stories we tell about ourselves and the world. So both, we can’t design cultures with any degree of certainty and yet we all contribute every day to the emergence of the characteristics of the cultures we participate in.

Daniel Christian Wahl — Catalyzing transformative innovation in the face of converging crises, advising on regenerative whole systems design, regenerative leadership, and education for regenerative development and bioregional regeneration.

Author of the internationally acclaimed book Designing Regenerative Cultures

Twitter: @DrDCWahl

Medium: Blog with more than 280 articles

Facebook: RegenerativeCultures and Ecological Consciousness


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