Aligning Culture and Strategy
Think of a company culture you’ve experienced that inspired you to work at your best. What was that culture like? Come up with at least five words to describe it.
When I do this exercise during workshops and trainings, most people say similar things: high standards, ample resources, employee appreciation, input is valued and so on. These are the basic tenants that motivate people over the long haul.
For people to work hard and do their best you can’t just push them to work hard. You have to create an environment where working hard is fulfilling—a culture where they have some autonomy to make decisions and a chance to feel masterful at a task they enjoy.
You may have heard the phrase, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It’s true that if you don’t have a healthy culture, then the best-laid strategy will likely fail. But to turn the odds in your favor, make sure your culture supports your strategy.
Strategy and culture are often seen as independent factors but they are completely dependent upon each other. Ignore one at the peril of the other. In reality, 1% of strategy is planning and 99% is daily decisions and actions. Culture effects these daily decisions and actions far more than the plan itself. The most successful companies have a mix of good strategy and supportive culture.
How do you get there? Great question! Here are a few tips:
Begin with your Best DNA. Your Best DNA is what your company excels at, your people have passion for and your customers value about you. Building on your company’s Best DNA is a powerful way to guide culture and strategy goals. Goals should be aligned with your strengths and the best value you add to customers. Your brand is your DNA seen from the outside and should resonate throughout the company and the market.
Involve your team. Together discover where you’re supporting your Best DNA well. Then evaluate where your current culture needs a change to support the strategy better. Collectively work together to figure out how to build a bridge from your current strengths to where you want to be. Use this process to engage your team in the culture and strategy planning. Most people contribute powerfully when they are invited to do so and are given enough information. Support your team in taking healthy risks to adapt and implement strategy quickly and easily. Good decision-making and high employee engagement create a vital cycle of great business results.
Develop culture and strategy simultaneously. Create strategy that builds on the core of your culture, energizing vision and the strengths of your organization. As you progress, redesign systems to enable you to fulfill your vision. Developing your people and enhancing momentum propel both strategy and culture.
Want to learn more about Culture and Strategy?
Watch this short video: on “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast”.
Download this free handout.
Book a Culture Workshop, presentation or keynote with Bob.