What is the relationship between culture and strategy

Corporate culture is an incredibly powerful factor in a company’s long-term success. No matter how good your strategy is, when it comes down to it, people always make the difference. As Peter Drucker so wisely stated:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Strategy, at its core, is rational and logical, clear and simple. It should be easy to comprehend and to talk about. Without a clear strategy, a company is lost.

Culture, on the other hand, means different things to different people. It is emotional, ever-changing, and complex. Culture is human, vulnerable, and as moody as the people who define it. It can be intimidating and frustrating, often leaving leaders dodging it, neglecting it, or discounting it. Because so many companies are run by people whose expertise is heavily skewed to the rational, financial, and legal side of the equation, culture is often subordinated, misunderstood, or underappreciated.

So what is the relationship between culture and strategy:

  • Strategy drives focus and direction while culture is the emotional, organic habitat in which a company’s strategy lives or dies
  • Strategy is just the headline on the company’s story – culture needs a clearly understood common language to embrace and tell the story that includes mission, vision, values, and clear expectations
  • Strategy is about intent and ingenuity and culture determines and measures desire, engagement, and execution
  • Strategy lays down the rules for playing the game, and culture fuels the spirit for how the game will be played
  • Strategy is imperative for differentiation, but a vibrant culture delivers the strategic advantage
  • Culture is built or eroded every day. How you climb the hill and whether it’s painful, fun, positive, or negative defines the journey
  • When culture embraces strategy, execution is scalable, repeatable, and sustainable
  • Culture is a clear competitive advantage
  • Culture must be monitored to understand the health and engagement of your organization

Culture is eating what it kills – such as strategy, change management, innovation, operational efficiency, lean process and even including vision and mission.

Source: Dilbert

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Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development, change management and turn-around – Online profile


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