Peter Drucker is widely credited with saying “Culture eats Strategy for lunch.” Others opine that it is not merely a one meal feast. The truth is that culture does eat strategy, and that we must have both. Defining and executing a way for the two to complement each other is critical to any strategy’s success.
Strategy and culture must do more than merely coexist. Strategy establishes intent and defines deliverables. It is based in need and sets the agenda and priorities envisioned in a desired future state. Culture is the engine of actualization for all strategy. Its coin are the values, processes, relationships, and behaviors of an organization. When crafting new strategies, one must consider, engage, and possibly morph culture elements so that the engine behind the actualization of strategy is running on all cylinders and in the right direction. One may have a strategy, but it is certain that one will have a culture. Best to make sure they are cooperating.
Aligning strategy and culture creates unity and energy. Most new strategies have some form of change management embedded in them, and anytime change is on the menu vision casting and selling the change is a must. The goal here is to reach a point of adoption where individuals in the organization take the new vision as their own, realizing that it will likely be changed at the margins as adoption is realized. Changes that improve or facilitate the desired future state should be accommodated and supported, regardless of where they emerge from. It is also important that all business functions be aligned on the strategy. Even tangential support functions can have a detrimental effect when their priorities are not aligned. Conversely, they can be an enabler when properly aligned and integrated.
Objectivity and transparency support alignment and improve outcomes. Letting the facts speak for themselves and allowing them to be widely viewed keeps strategy initiatives focused on target in real time and facilitates organic alignment. Of course, the facts used to steer the initiative must be the most important and cogent facts, not simply relevant ones. This makes determining measurements related to the initiative a critical element. Measure the right things and you will have a clear view of progress. Measure the wrong things and the data may look great while your initiative flounders.
Advantages of well curated strategy execution include focus, cohesion, and consistently healthy attitudes and behavior. Having everyone on the same page, viewing the same data, and acting in the strategy’s best interests results from their internal belief and investment in the future state goal and envisioned process. It is not enough to develop a winning strategy, you must also socialize it to the point it first becomes a defining element in each person’s motivation, then a part of the culture of the organization. That is when you will have reached the sweet spot, when individual motivations and strategy goals unite to create a culture that glides on momentum.
Then you can all sit down to a full feast, satisfied with the achievement and the process.