Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast, Or Does It?

This famous quote is often attributed to Peter Drucker but it is not found in print anywhere. Regardless, this is a belief that is often debated around the world and is nestled in the idea - if you only have $100 to invest, do you spend it on building a bustling culture or do you spend it on planning? The answer is actually more nuanced than that.

Culture

When your entire company or organization of 2 or 20,000 shares values - what they believe and how they act.

Culture is certainly not about foosball tables and kegs - rather it is made up of the symbols, stories, norms, and behaviors that are part of the unconscious structure of your organization. It can be found in the unwritten rules and the even or uneven application of your policies and procedures.

Strategy

A clear idea of the best way forward toward a shared version of the destination.

Whether you are a written strategic plan kind of place, or an annual planner kind of organization the key element of strategy is broad agreement about your general direction from your entire team.

Where Do We Go from Here

The best place to start is by focusing on some key global questions around strategy and culture as a way to dig into some sore spots and bright spots. The questions below are meant to be generative to get you moving and your team talking about what elements to focus on in order to move forward.

Key Strategy Questions

  1. Where do you see your business/organization in 1 year?

  2. Where do you see your business/organization in 5 years?

  3. Do you have a clear idea of how to get there?

  4. Do your employees have a clear idea of how to get there?

  5. Where is your business/organization going and how will you know when you arrive?


Culture Questions

  1. STORIES: Who are the heroes, heroines, villains?

  2. STORIES: If asked, what would your employees say is your culture?

  3. RITUALS AND ROUTINES: What are your positive and negative patterns?

  4. SYMBOLS: If a stranger spent a day in your company what would they experience?

  5. ORG STRUCTURE: What does your reporting structure say about your company?

  6. CONTROL SYSTEMS: What do rewards and promotions look like?

  7. CONTROL SYSTEMS: What are your employee policies and procedures?

  8. POWER STRUCTURES: Who really makes the decisions - employees, customers/clients, investors?

Drum Roll…

At the end of the day - both really matter but if you take care of your employees they will drive your strategy faster and further. So what does this kind of work look like? It looks like employee engagement, culture change, change management - or perhaps something altogether different. But it most certainly looks like being in relationship with your team, listening deeply, and reacting to their feedback.