I was reading an article about the danger of your hidden culture called "Executives Beware — Your Culture May Be Deadly by Peter De Lisi. If you recall the kids game, when the mole sticks his head up out of the ground, you try to whack the mole. In many organizations, anybody who sticks the head up with an idea or concept which is outside the box is given a whack. How many times in a meeting somebody asks a questions that we find challenging and the questions is push aside? I think it is very easy for an organization to have a "Whack a Mole Culture."
I find that the best way to stay engage in a meeting is to actively participate and ask questions. I expect at times I get whacked and do not even notice.
I think this sort of culture develops in a very subtle fashion and really stifles innovation. Notice at the next work session you attend, how few people ask the hard but obvious question or make a suggestion which is "outside the box."
Many subtle things reveal the culture and underlying assumptions of an organization. However they are very important and very difficult to change. However with a concerted effort on the part of the group, they can change. Often I think culture change is the reason a new CEO is bought into an organization from outside the industry. The hope is that he might make a culture change. Usually he has to change many of the senior team. Even then these silent assumptions are very tenacious and hard to change. Of course they are always replaced by new ones, maybe even better ones.