When thinking about the practice of culture, I sometimes refer to a fable about the “Pot Roast Principle”—the tradition of cutting off the ends of the pot roast that was passed down to the next generation. When a granddaughter finally asked her grandmother how the tradition started, she discovered that the real reason was because the pot roast would not fit into her grandmother’s small roasting pan unless the ends were cut off.
This is how traditions and practices get passed down. We watch, we learn, we do, without asking questions. When a company is young, implicit assumptions are made on how to do things, the wrong behaviors can get reinforced, and the ends get cut from the roast, even when the pan is bigger. Practices need to be reviewed and evolve with the company; if not, different behaviors get reinforced.