The topic for the next event was inspired by the now popular phrase: culture eats strategy for breakfast. In looking for panelists that will represent different viewpoints it has become a culture versus strategy debate. Our panelists, our guests and both Susan and I are talking about them in terms of which one is more important in helping a business achieve its goals.
If we revisit the meaning behind the phrase, which was no matter how well thought-out the strategy is, if you don’t have or consider the culture in your organization to support that strategy it will not come to fruition. It means that many business leaders have underestimated the power of culture and failed in their new strategies because of it.
Therefore, it’s really about the two working hand-in-hand.
If a company proposed a new strategy that was very different from current mode of operation, it would require a lot of change in the thought processes and behaviours of the organization’s employees or members to make it happen. The meaning behind the statement is simply saying don’t take that for granted. Plan for it and make it work for you.
For example, you can’t just say we’re going after really highfalutin corporate clients without considering that your environment is currently casual dress and you may need to change the dress code. You would then have to consider what this change will mean to your employees and how best to go about enforcing it, or gently transitioning to a no jeans rule. This is probably just one cultural aspect that would need to change. Maybe you also have to move into a bank building.
Older companies would also need to consider if the existing culture is so deeply ingrained can they even make that kind of change. if not, does that mean you cannot achieve the new strategy? Or maybe the strategy is off-base if the culture is that counter to it. Panelist Kim Bruce from Canadian Tire can speak more to that challenge.
Don’t choose between culture and strategy
All good leaders know that as good a leader as they may be, they’re nothing but culture and strategy blog culture and strategy blog without the support of their team. The team’s way of thinking, their belief system and the way they behave every day in the workplace is what is currently driving it is the forward, or holding it back. don’t underestimate the power of that culture.
A strong culture or one that is counter to your strategy doesn’t mean you can’t make change. Maybe there is no real culture and new strategies are an opportunity to build one. Just be aware of and respect the power of culture, and use it to help you make change.