Watch out for the next big scandal to hit the news.

In the very first report of the scandal, or perhaps in the one that follows, the culture of the organization will be mentioned as the culprit. We will learn how this unbelievable behavior (sexual harassment, cheating software, fake accounts, etc.) was preordained by the existing culture.

If bad cultures lead to big scandals, micro-behaviors lead to bad cultures. A hurtful comment by a supervisor left unaddressed. Outliers removed from a quality report. A small injury not recorded. Embellishments in marketing data.

With time, these micro-behaviors become the norm. And because the brain is an organ that compares, when the behaviors become slightly worse, it’s barely noticed. Classic frog-in-boiling-water story. Classic broken-window theory.

That’s how cultures are created. That’s how scandals are made.

Sure, you can watch out for the next big scandal if you’d like.

But you’re better off watching out for micro-behaviors.

Hat tip to PwC’s Gilly Lord.

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