Reveal Culture

I have things to say about the Ask/Guess/Tell Cultures model, and an addition/amendment to propose: Reveal Culture. Shifting cultures is hard, so what you’re about to read is not going to have a quality of “let’s all go do this!” I do think it’s worth talking about a lot more, and working on gradually and creatively with others who are game to experiment with culture-crafting.

This post is going to assume that you’re familiar with the Ask/Guess Culture model at the very least. I don’t want to have to explain the whole concept from scratch. The post is written with a Tell Culture familiar audience in mind, although I think it would be worth reading without it. I will talk about each in turn and my understanding of how they work, so you understanding them well is not a prerequisite for this post.

I do want to note that I think it makes more sense to talk about “ask cultures” or even “Guess-based cultures” though, rather than in the singular. This is helpful for keeping salient the fact that there are many very different cultures built upon the platform of Ask or of Guess.

So I’m going to use Majuscule Singular to talk about the platforms and lowercase plurals to talk about the cultures themselves. I think this is just good thinking practice.

Why am I using a new term?

I want to talk about a new cultural platform: Reveal Culture.

It has similarities to Tell Culture, but I’m choosing a new name for three reasons:

  • because I think that people read a lot into the names (for example assuming that if you ask a question then it must not be Guess Culture) (more on this as a general issue)
  • I think the name “Reveal Culture” suits this particular thing better than “Tell” (For what it’s worth, I think that “Infer” probably suits Guess a lot better than “Guess” does.)
  • I don’t want people to associate what I’m putting out with those who are trying to do tell culture with everybody just based on reading Brienne’s post. A culture doesn’t shift overnight: the reveal-based culture that I have experience with has been working at this for over a decade (I’ve been involved for 3 years) and it’s only just now becoming robust.

I’ll talk later about why I’ve chosen the name “Reveal”. Right now I want to talk about the structure of the models.

Why are they called “cultures” and not just “styles” or “strategies”?

In internet discussions, there have been proposals to refer to Ask/Guess/Tell as (variably) styles, strategies, skills, techniques, habits or something else (rather than “cultures”). In some cases, I think that this suggestion arises out of an oversimplification of how they actually work, although Brienne pointed out to me that there’s at least one good reason to avoid the term ‘culture’: “because ‘culture’ is way too close to ‘tribe’, and it makes people focus on cheering or defense.”

Unfortunately, those other terms aren’t sufficiently complex to model the dynamics. » read the rest of this entry »

A portrait of Malcolm Ocean

I'm Malcolm Ocean.

I'm trying to figure out how humans work so I can help make humanity work. More about me.

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