Culture is not ping pong tables and parties. Culture is the accumulation of decisions combined with success.
I like this because it explains why culture can be so hard to change. If crazy is doing the same thing and expecting different results, then rational people try for repeated success by repeating past activities. That doesn’t mean cultures are static — they all evolve — but rapid change is most often birthed in response to failure, not inspired by edicts.1
But success hides problems, and nothing is so perfect it can’t be improved, so intentionally directing the evolution of a successful culture is a worthwhile endeavor. It requires identifying highly respected leaders receptive to the desired change (wherever they may be found, org chart be damned), supporting them as they try new things, protecting them when they fail, and evangelizing success. It’s more work than ordering mugs festooned with pithy slogans, but it’s also the only thing likely to work.
Merging disparate cultures is doubly hard — each side knows their way works and is understandably wary of techniques they have no experience with. ↩