Strategy & Culture

Strategy is all well and good but what about culture? After all according to Drucker, culture eats strategy for breakfast!

Both culture and strategy are shaped by storytelling. This is why the narrative of an organisation - the story it is telling itself - is so important. Unified by the same shared story there is synergy. Divided then yes culture eats strategy for breakfast (Drucker) but equally strategy becomes a meal nobody ordered.

What if, instead of competing, culture and strategy complemented one another? Strategy empowered by culture is a formidable partnership characterised by increased momentum and frictionless execution. Culture - the way we do things around here -supercharging strategy- what we’re doing around here.

That sounds great, but how do you align culture and strategy? Values. Culture will always reflect our values (irrespective of what the posters say). The key that locks strategy to culture is ensuring values are embedded in strategy. Culture plus values based strategy places the competition firmly on the breakfast menu!

If Drucker is right when he says culture trumps strategy (and he is) then strategy better pay attention to culture.

We define culture as “the way we do things around here”.

It’s shaped by what we actually value not what’s printed on the coasters and posters.

Perhaps the ultimate test of culture is in what we are allowed to challenge and what we are not. Why?

Because what we tolerate will dominate and what dominates becomes culture.

One of our key principles comes in the form of “you are never in a mess if you have a plan”.

There is one exception. If the culture is toxic and your plan doesn’t decisively address culture then you are or soon will be in a mess.

Mark Lawrence is a leadership and culture consultant