There has been a long-running debate over which is more important, strategy or culture. At Langano, we think the debate is a red herring – because the truth is that both are critical and they are very closely inter-related.
Peter Drucker is famously reported to have said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He went on to proclaim the wonderful benefits to any business of having a great organisational culture, with or without strategy. However, things are not as straightforward as they might appear – because both culture and strategic direction and planning are needed to bring strategy to life.
I’d like to point out that there is no clear citation that Drucker actually made the comment. In fact, it was made famous by Mark Fields from the Ford Motor Company, who had the saying written on the wall of his conference room. But I digress…
Reading the management literature, most people agree that strategy and culture are inextricably linked. Many authors say that you can only execute strategy within the context of your organisational culture. This means that your organisational culture might limit the strategic imperatives that you are able to achieve. So, as you plan and prepare to implement change, you need to include checking on your organisational culture as a key preparation step.
As strategic change plans are formulated, managing and preparing your organisation’s culture in readiness for the coming change is a key activity. If your culture is based around ‘let’s get away with what we is not discovered’ and there are no consequences for flouting your stated values, implementing a change program to improve customer service is not likely to be effective. This means that you really need to pay close attention to your organisation’s culture – all the time!
If you can measure and manage the culture, continuously strengthening and improving it, then you are half way there with resilience and change readiness. The question is, what kind of culture do you have right now and is it where you want it to be?
In the Harvard Business Review Focus on Culture series, the authors illustrate the different types of cultures and how often they are ranked as first or second priority within an organisation’s profile.
Here’s what they define as the different cultural priorities… Click on the image to watch a brief video outlining them or read about it below.
Results cultures are defined by goal driven and winning environments and are prioritised as first or second most important by 89% of organisations.
Caring cultures are defined by warm, collaborative and welcoming environments and are prioritised as first or second most important by 63% of organisations.
Order cultures play by the rules, are highly structured and methodological and are prioritised as first or second most important by 15% of organisations.
Purpose cultures are defined by passionate environments with a focus on contributing to the greater good and are prioiritised as first or second most important by 9% of organisations.
Safety cultures are defines as predictable and risk-conscious environments with a focus on planning and risk management and are prioritised as first or second most important by 8% of organisations.
Learning cultures are defined by workplaces that encourage exploration, creativity and open-mind attitudes and are prioritised as first or second most important by 7% of organisations.
Authority cultures are defined by competitive environments with decisive and bold processes and are prioritised as first or second most important by 4% of organisations.
Enjoyment cultures are defined by light-hearted environments with high morale and high engagement and are prioritised as first or second most important by just 2% of organisations.
I’d like you to take a moment and think about which of these characteristics your ideal organisational culture would be built on – are they being achieved and espoused by your team right now?
Stay tuned for our next article on managing change so you can create a culture that will bring your strategy to life or get in touch with us to make it happen now.