Visualizing Functional Culture

In my recent posts, I taken you on a romp through functional cultures. If you haven’t read those posts, see Meaning Fitness, Why we ignore functional cultures?, and Chaos has Changed & Functional Cultures are Alive and Well. So we’ve explored the conceptual model. We have a few hints. It’s time to tool functional cultures up, so you can start using them.

In the last post, I mentioned the situation where an idea, a concept, divides a population into those that have adopted the idea (in), those that have started down a pedagogical pathway towards adopting the idea (on), and those that have no idea about the idea (out). These things were discussed in terms of a book, but marketing teaches, particularly in B2B where you need six contacts with a prospect before you can schedule a sales visit. A lot of things teach. A lot of things get learned.

I wondered if I meant a Venn diagram when I wrote that post. Subcultures are a proper subset, well, if the world was nice and neat. Let’s pretend. We won’t pretend long.

Venn Diagram of a Subculture within another Subculture

Venn Diagram of a Subculture within another Subculture

Here we use a Venn diagram to illustrate how a population within another population adopts an idea. That idea has meanings attached to it. Those meanings are learned and justified by the adopting population. These actions make culture, a subculture. The adopting population will see the world from the perspective of the adopted idea. The non-adopters won’t see the world that way. The non-adopters are different from the universal population, so the non-adopters are a subculture unto themselves. They learned some meanings that separated them from the universal population. So learning the idea that separates populations A and B, non-adopter and adopter, made a subculture within a subculture. The picture starts to look like a topological map.

So if you need a quick visualization of a functional culture use a Venn diagram. Please don’t rush to UML. Apparently, UML doesn’t encode ontology. There are tools for that, tools that are now associated with the SematicWeb. UML doesn’t tie into terminology management, so we go without controlling our vocabulary. We let developers name thing, and then we expect everyone else to conform to the developer’s terminology. Just another thing we do to avoid confronting, admitting to, and leveraging  functional cultures.

Personally, I think in terms conceptual geographies, complete with elevation, cliffs, canyons, and such. But, the Venn diagram is as close as we’ll get to that here.

So we’re on the road to the next visualization.

Sociogeography of a Subculture

Sociogeography of a Subculture, a graphic primitive

This iconic representation differs from the Venn diagram, because the boundary between the source and target subcultures is thick. The black arrows are the pedagogical pathways where a person can move from the outside to the inside , from out to in. The problem for the person is to find a resource that enables them to get in. Sometimes being on is enough. Make the A, get out, forget it, get on with it. Attention is limited. Maintaining a subculture subscription becomes a constant if it becomes part of the person’s identity.

If I had a graphic tool to visualize these subcultural boundaries, I could drop another subculture in the destination culture and recursively show the complexity of say
Accounting>Tax Accounting>Multinational>WIP.

Conceptualizations work that way. You drop the concept into a set of other concepts. You do this recursively, so the concept you dropped into the structure has a position, a location, an address. And, you have a hierarchical definition for the new concept at the ontological level and terminological level.  I discussed ontological level in Building a Dog, Oh, Make that a Cat. And, in the previous post when I talked about storying. Ontons, or ontological sortables, are the thing these cultural boundaries are made of.

The Berlin Wall fell. It took years for the East Germans to adjust to the West Germans, and likewise. The ontons were more than the bricks and barbed wire.

So I’ve moved the idea of dropping that icon to realizing it.

A Subculture within a Subculture

A Subculture within a Subculture

The shape of the icons can be established by ontological locations as point coordinates, or by massing a population of ontons into an area. Or, you can just skip that and draw it. Don’t worry, I won’t go deeper today.

The black arrows represent ontological pathways. They don’t have to line up. These ontological pathways have rates. It takes so many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years to move across cultural divides. Or, seconds. there is a differential equation buried in ontological pathways. The thicknesses of the cultural divides interact with the speed of the transition. You can relate the thicknesses to those ontological locations and the duration of the ensuing ontological travel. Or, you can just draw it.  Take bus, the train, the plane, just get here–my apologies to “Get Here,” a song I used to sing in the Karaoke bars.

The Rough Guide for one of these ontological travel episodes would tell you that you need certain things: a passport, a visa, money, and of course, a guide–in a word prerequisites. Having a little knowledge speeds up your travels and gets you through passport control a little faster.

The ontological pathways on the diagram are unique to each transition. A person seeking to make the trip must find them. Even you have to find them if you are going to include them on the diagram.

The hard part of text visualization is the that the lexicon, the evidence of an underlying ontological sortable is that direction and distance tends to be extrinsic. Intrinsic geography would require standards. Make up your own rules. Define the distances. Just don’t churn those distances. Be consistent. While you do this, keep in mind that a standard deviation can be normalized, thus becoming a unit measure.

Another aspect of  this figure is that it illustrates the movement from general to specific, the process of becoming a specialist.

When the arrows run from in to out, you have a specialist becoming a generalist like an engineer going to b-school. Warning. B-school is like any other school, you learn and enter into a subculture, a functional culture. A former coworker described b-school as a place to learn the lexicon. Well, there were ontons to go with that lexicon, and there was the doing, the rituals.

Sociogeography of Generalization

Sociogeography of Generalization (from in to out)

To show that engineer going to b-school, I’d have to show the intake subculture of b-school which moves the student from on to in. That would be another specialist icon.

Those pedagogical pathways are more than content. Remember the tests? You have to pass the tests or change your major. Sales calls it qualifying the prospect. A pedagogical pathway is instruction. “Hey, you! Go back to concept 17.” The pedagogical pathways is a series of gates. I was thinking fluidics–as in Solo and Chewbaka discussing their getaway spaceship, hydrauliclogic–valves, so I didn’t use Boolean logic symbols, but you could. Do it your way.

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Gates (Valves)

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Gates (Valves)

Looks like a mess? Use a CAD system–Culture CAD.

I go on to switch the representation to documents. Here I take an enterprise wide view of the touchpoint collection, or document set in what we are calling content marketing these days. Marketing communications is teaching. You have to teach multiple stakeholders the various perspectives on your conceptualization, its eventual realization at the interface, and its value realization in the depth beyond the interface. A sales rep making a sales presentation is a document. Yes, a document with a mouth, a brain, a quota, and great communications skills. It’s an abstraction, not an insult.

I’m just illustrating a single pathway for a single stakeholder. There would be many pathways, many gates, many documents–networks!

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Fulfillment Chains

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Fulfillment Chains

When these pedagogical pathways are boiled down to a sequence of documents the word I’ve come to use is fulfillment chains. A printer or an independent sales organization ships documents to prospects in response to a request from that prospect. They call that fulfillment. Similarly, a web server serves documents in response to a request. You can also use fulfillment chains to cover the expertise development process of your documentation, training, and technical support operations. They are key to the post-sale enactment chain where expertise development lead to customer loyalty. Likewise, in the pre-sale enactment chain, the one that drags prospects to the cliff we call the sales funnel.

I could have drawn some kind of instructional design flowchart instead of a document chain. This visualization can span the product manager’s scope of responsibility. Get your head out of the bug list. If you want to be CEO of the product, you have the scope.

Before going on, I want to make this perfectly clear:

Instruction moves people from out to in.

Even software features teach. The thing that has to be learned is what feature X does, and how far from ones expectations the outcomes will be, aka how much compensation I’ll have to expend to meet those expectations. If I learn that I can’t get there from here, and I’m still going there, your software is toast–not another nickel. I learn that, its migration time, and I’m up against a 10 am deadline. Who needs sleep?  Your brand is toast as well. And, who ever saves me from you, just got themselves an evangelist.

Since features teach, any supporting content improves the chances that the feature will be learned. That supporting content becomes a feature in your offer. That supporting content isn’t just some nice to have. It’s critical, particularly since we haven’t really defined that feature to meet  the user’s need even if it has been UXed. The feature lacks cultural fit. The supporting content actually recontextualized the feature improving its cultural fitness. This comes from the statement I ran across long ago:

Programmers abstract away from the requirements, technical writers explicate back to the requirements.

This was a hint towards carrier (means) vs carried (content), the software as media idea. Programmers spend time on the carrier. The division is subtle. It takes more work to get something done fast enough, than it does to define a database record. The former carrier, the latter carried. The above statement is a fact in terms of my career. One programmer put it this way, “I deliver functionality. I don’t know anything about interfaces.” That was a few years back, so things change, but the focus is elsewhere. A hashing algorithm is a long way from a user, or that user’s functional culture.

The carrier/carried split also means there is a content split between the GUI interface users and the API users. That content split translates into learning, and the functional cultures defined by that learning.

Back to notation. Consider your instructional value chain. Your company doesn’t have to do it all. A professor picks a book, because they think that book works well with their particular take on the subject. They don’t have to do it all.You don’t either. You may want a partner to do this, or it may be part of your 3rd party developer ecology. They need to know what’s changing, so there is no lag in getting their content ready and out there. If you don’t want it to get out too soon, you may need a contract.

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Fulfillment Chains as Realizations

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Fulfillment Chains as Realizations

If you have someone creating documentation, training, or technical support content, they are doing project work and have dependencies in any development effort. They are creating a realization. I’ve used triangles to represent those realizations, aka I’ve used the triangle model, which I mentioned in the Dogs and Cats posts linked to earlier, and in Now that you have a Cat. Later, we’ll see how the triangle model lets us simplify the notation we use to illustrate functional cultures.

Realize that there is a recursion in a pedagogical pathway. You produce the instruction to produce a population that has learned what you taught. In software you realize content to realize users. Even the use of a single feature teaches some subset of your users. MS Word used to have a setting to enable the use off WordPerfect shortcut keys. This was the feature that eroded WordPerfect’s hold on its last stronghold, the legal secretary, a functional culture. I never used that feature. Alas, I’m not a legal secretary. Lawyers don’t have those anymore. Disrupted.

We’ve abstracted the underlying populations into the universal set. Its time to get more specific with the populations. Think channels.  I’ll add populations at the entries to the fulfillment chains. I do this, because the population using a particular pedagogical pathway to get in, does so because they have gained awareness of a resource. That awareness came to them either by accident (indigenously), or via marketing.

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Fulfillment Chains as Realizations with Populations
Sociogeography of a Subculture with Populations

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Populations

Of course, those populations are not all the same size. Their associated pedagogical pathways exhibit various efficiencies in moving that population from out to in. These populations were attracted, not gated or filtered.

Now, I’ll annotate a branded instructional pathway.

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Branded Fulfillment Chain

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Branded Fulfillment Chain

A collection of branded pedagogical pathways can cross the conceptual hierarchy. If the branded entity helps the learner succeed at the first transition, that entity can certainly help the traveler gain awareness of that entity’s subsequent offerings–the retained learner.

What gets taught by these pedagogical pathways embeds a model, a perspective, of the underlying subject. That model becomes yet again a subculture. The pathway might emerge after years of teaching the subject, so the model is different from earlier models. The subject changed. The teaching changed, the culture changes. Across time, you end up with a functional culture composed of generations of meaning, and populations divided by those generations. I call this a collection of paradigmatic cultures. Paradigmatic cultures occur temporally within a subculture.

In computer science, it’s the difference between the software engineering era, and the non-computability era, or the determinist vs nondeterminist programmers. It happens. It’s time to start accounting for and accommodating this reality.

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Cultural-Ontological Models and Populations

Sociogeography of a Subculture with Cultural-Ontological Models and Populations

This figure illustrates how a convergent idea and a divergent idea move populations from out to in. Convergent ideas (bottom right) merges two formerly mutually exclusive populations like nuclear scientist and medical doctors. Divergent ideas (upper right) create a proper subset in a single population.

So why bother with all this?

Across the technology adoption lifecycle it means more money for vendor at the very time when their markets are declining. Getting it done on an organizational level requires application and organizational architectures unfamiliar right now. It requires organizations to change their behavior.

For the users it promises better fitness beyond what the UX paradigm offers, because the dysfunctions are far from the interface.

For product managers it ties software development and marketing together much more closely. When a function depreciates, so does its underlying concept and the concept’s pedagogical pathways. It’s never fire and forget. It’s never a matter of throwing it over the wall and letting marketing play catch up. It’s never a matter of terminology conflicts caused by the failure to manage that terminology.

I’ll leave the notation simplification for the next post. The figures are done. So it won’t be long. You don’t have all day to read this. I’ll leave you with a summing up graphic.

Ontological Models-Verticals and Horizontals-TALC-Economic Impacts

Ontological Models-Verticals and Horizontals-TALC-Economic Impacts

I added a layer under the conceptual model (the carried) for the carrier. It’s the green along the left and upper edge of the conceptual model. I also coded the IT horizontal of the technology adoption lifecycle green as well, because the focus of applications in this phase is carrier. The IT horizontal is its own collection of functional cultures. I went on to draw the bowling ally in the technology adoption lifecycle. Here you go find yourself an early adopter in a vertical industry. You do this eight times. The figure just shows two such engagements and their subsequent verticals. You are productizing your technology in these verticals. The verticals are far apart on the macroeconomic industrial tree. They are culturally very different. Their applications share only your underlying technology. Those differences get trashed as the technology moves to the IT horizontal. The focus shifts to IT functional cultures and away from those vertical cultures. When the application moves to the late market, you de-geek the application, you move to an average, segmentation driven functionality. This is where you can improve your fitness by going back to a focus on specific functional cultures.

The macroeconomic industrial tree is there to illustrate the risk reduction provided by the bowling ally. Individual companies in your portfolio become economic sensors in your macroeconomic decision support system. It also illustrates generalization and specialization. It is easier to migrate up the tree than down (generalization vs. specialization). It is much hard to migrate across the tree laterally (specialization to specialization).

Comments please. Thanks!


4 Responses to “Visualizing Functional Culture”

  1. The Tip Off and Functional Cultures Viz II « Product Strategist Says:

    […] Product Strategist Just another weblog « Visualizing Functional Culture […]

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    […] those pedagogical pathways we discussed back in Visualizing Functional Culture are networks ultimately comprising Markov […]

  3. My Long Tails « Product Strategist Says:

    […] Getting back home,  Ruud Hein over at SearchEnginePeople asked me to write another guest post. So I wrote up the long tail part of my #PCS11 presentation. The presentation was intended to show how a long tail can be applied to model many different processes we bump into in product management and product marketing management. One of those models integrates product management and product marketing, a topic hinted at in this post on functional cultures. […]

  4. Choice Cultures | Product Strategist Says:

    […] Visualizing Functional Culture (Cultures Vis I) […]

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