In labs, we use petri dishes to test certain cultures in isolated environments. This allows us to conduct multiple isolated experiments until an idea result is obtained. Once achieved, the successful culture is then produced in mass as a key ingredient in whatever it is the lab was solving.
It makes sense since we cannot predict the outcomes of the cultures and their interactions with the solutions introduced. We need a controlled environment where we can limit exposure and identify a solution sequence.
It would make sense to follow a similar protocol for company culture. Especially when we are changing it through interventions such as transition management, retrenchment, restructuring or mergers.
Before releasing the new “solution’ into the general population, we should test it first, in a controlled environment. Granted, business is never a lab. Could we design perti dishes to test cultural enhancements before exposure? Like fostering innovation practices in the R&D lab before perpetuating it to other teams, or teaching our cleaning staff to be engaging with our customers before we tackle the back office?
Culture doesn’t change overnight. If it’s slow anyway, it’s worth taking time to design.
Of course, you could spend the time and money to fix an unsupportive culture instead.