In "The Tipping Point", the author talks about the fact that people will commit crimes in areas where there an obvious lack of respect for property. If you fix the broken windows and clean up a neighbourhood, crime will reduce. In business, I think similar things apply. A lack of respect for individuals leads to a lack of respect for all kinds of things. Harvey, my mentor, always demonstrated respect for every person from the cleaning staff to the most senior people. I think it led to many other great practices.
I think examples in an organization that does not treat clients and employees with respect can lead to all kinds of much more severe problems. These things can start with very simple things and the whole environment and business can start a downward spiral.
Starting with repairing "broken windows" can lead to improvement in many areas. A broken window might be ways that employees are treated when difficulties arise. The office environment and the way that support staff are treated can be a symptom of serious problems. How often are the human resources and IT the favourite scapegoats when things go wrong? Finance people are called bean counters or worse. Often customer people are called stupid or talked about disrespectfully.
What are some broken windows in your world? What can you do to fix some little things that lead to profound change?