When did CYA become the culture?

Someone once asked me, “Has anyone ever yelled at you for making a mistake here?”

I replied truthfully, “Not really”.

Their reply was, “How and when did CYA become the culture here?”

“No idea.” was my reply.

There had been a shift in the culture where I was working from getting things done and trying new things to CYA. The only apparent thought I had was that it was imported. We had brought in more people with more experience where CYA was the culture.

It’s not easy, but culture can creep up on you. Create the culture actively, or it will happen in a way you don’t control gradually.

What would have helped the CYA culture not creep in?

Messaging. Repeatedly.

“Try new things.” “Take risks.” “Do your best and the rest doesn’t matter.” Any of those things repeated enough would have helped, but they were left unsaid.

Say the words. They are part of the culture.