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Organizational Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Maintaining cultural coherence across a companies portfolio should be an essential factor when determining a corporate strategy.

Strategy or culture: Which is more important?
Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, a phrase originated by Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields, President at Ford, is an absolute reality! Any company disconnecting the two are putting their success at risk.

However, while many studies show there is a direct correlation between a healthy, productive culture and a company’s bottom line, the majority of companies spend little time thinking, let alone doing anything about, this topic – even when they’re spending lots of time thinking about their business strategy.

Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner so don’t leave it unattended.

Strategy, capabilities and culture need to be aligned
There is a powerful triumvirate in corporate transformations – Strategy, capabilities and culture. All three need to be designed together, aligned and enabling of each other to create true organizational transformation.

Strategy, capabilities and culture leadership is about a series of related choices about “where we going to play”, “how are we going to win and differentiate”, “what capabilities need to be in place to execute”, “what are the cultural imperatives to enable differentiation and execution”?

Given strategy is typically viewed from a 3-5 year time horizon and refreshed every few years, capabilities and culture also need to be reviewed at the same time and as one process.

This does not mean changing the values of the company, it means in the context of the strategy, business model, brand positioning … what capabilities are required and what are the critical few cultural capabilities required to enable and drive success?

How to cultivate organizational culture?
Corporate culture is a hard thing to get right. It’s a moving target that means something different to everyone. It grows and evolves over time and is the result of action and reaction. It is the lingering effect of every interaction. How to cultivate organizational culture?

Don’t forget culture when drafting corporate strategies
Culture change is complex and most efforts fail to meet expectations. This is in part because it is often approached separately from strategy and capabilities and becomes an “HR Thing”, and/or it is approached too broadly.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast … you can’t get any stronger message than that … unfortunately a message that is all too often forgotten when drafting corporate strategies.

The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything – Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. former CEO IBM

Strategy or culture
Maintaining cultural coherence across a companies portfolio should be an essential factor when determining a corporate strategy. No culture, however strong, can overcome poor choices when it comes to corporate strategy. The impact of culture on a companies success is only as good as its strategy is sound.

Don’t let culture eat strategy for breakfast. Have them feed each other.

About the Author
Torben Rick - Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

Related Article: How to Deal With Company Culture “Eating” Your Supply Chain Strategy

For information on how to establish and implement your own company culture and values, download the whitepaper Company Culture Counts.

Article Topics
Best Practices   Supply Chain   Leadership   Company Culture   All topics


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