Niels Pflaeging offers some clarity. “Culture is like a shadow. You cannot change it, but it changes all the time. Culture is read-only.” Trying to change culture is like trying to change traffic or the weather — easy to yell at, but not likely to respond. Or worse, the actions we take have unintended consequences.
The trouble stems (at least in part) from the fact that we still look at organizations mechanistically. Have a speed problem? Let’s pop the hood and see which part needs replacing. But organizations are not that linear. They are complex human systems that require a completely different metaphor. They are more akin to organisms, ecosystems, or networks. Interconnected, dynamic, emergent, and ever-changing.