So how does an organization nurture and support an environment with no 'sacred cows' where it is safe to express an existing pattern as potentially a dead idea?
I don't really have the answer. If I did, I'd probably be rich. But I do have a few thoughts.
First, I think you have to change your own personal behaviors and look at where you don't question certain sacred cows in your life. A few months back I read A.J. Jacobs' is The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible and one of the things that struck me about his book was the idea that to change your beliefs, you have to start with changing your behavior. Fake it till you make it. It's not the beliefs that have to change first. Instead, you have to start "being the change you want to see." I think that creating an organizational culture of questioning sacred cows has to begin with us as individuals trying to weed out the dead ideas that may be holding us back personally and professionally.
Part of doing this means engaging in your own personal reflective practices. Then you can move on to trying to create an organizational environment of reflective practice where there is regular reflection and structured thinking about the work and values of the organization and how that is fitting in with reality.
I also think that both individually and organizationally you have to be thinking about the big, important problems and focus on doing work that matters. Too often I think we get bogged down in the minute details and the short-term view, which means we're never really taking a step back to look at the larger picture of what's going on. This is a habit that has to be cultivated, especially since it tends to go against how most organizations end up operating.
These are a couple of thoughts that come to my mind in terms of creating a "sacred cow-free zone." What ideas do you have? How do we cultivate an environment that regularly challenges us to question if we're holding on to dead ideas?