Sustainable Culture

In addition to the vital signs already discussed, a Tier III culture is congruent and progressive. Such a culture is not only operational and alive, but also has the ability to survive and prosper for a long time into the future; thus, a Tier III culture is called a sustainable culture.


Conflict is common in complex systems, and culture is no exception. Sometimes conflicts arise due to fundamental differences, and other times they arise because interpretations diverge. A congruent culture typically has a low level of internal conflict with no major issues hiding beneath surface that threaten the stability of the culture itself. Often, a culture attempts to accommodate conflicting parts without fundamentally resolving the conflicts; such practices are not considered congruent.

Holes refer to missing parts of a culture. When holes exist, different members of the culture may attempt to fill them in different ways; since many of these decisions are made without regard to the culture itself, they typically introduce conflicts that make the culture less congruent.


it must reflect how modern people live their lives. It must be forward looking and focused on the future while considering how much people can accept in the present. A culture that is not forward looking is not likely to survive long and is a source of constant friction, both internally and externally.

One clear ramification of this vital indicator is a need for a simple revival of so-called traditional values and practices. A naïve approach based on the wholesale adoption of glorious ancient traditions of a particular dynasty and belief system should be discouraged, unless a good case can be made that such traditions and beliefs are most appropriate. Many belief systems and associated rules and rituals are no longer relevant in today’s world. Another example of a major change at the societal level in the modern era is the complete rejection of discrimination or stereotyping. A culture must avoid typecasting people based on gender, age or other characteristics (e.g., gender based division of labor in which men are responsible for work outside the home and women are responsible for work inside the home), even if they are traditionally accepted, or even celebrated.

A culture cannot be stable without a fundamental sense of fairness built into it. Fairness does not necessarily mean equality, although that is one possible form of fairness in certain contexts. Different cultures may have different interpretations of fairness; the important thing is not that such a definition conforms to a theoretical construct, but that it can be a working concept accepted by (almost) all members of a society.

A progressive culture should also be adaptable. In other words, it should evolve with a changing environment. A rigid culture might be strong in its current environment, but is bound to be obsolete in the future.