Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Corporate culture has a powerful influence in the leadership style of any organization. When you are implementing a strategy management initiative, you need to take care with the corporate culture. Sometimes you want to change the strategy without realizing that the culture need to change first. For a well-implemented strategy, one of the principles is consider the strategy as everyone's job, you need motivated people to implement the strategy. The way you are going to drive your company need to be well understood. You need to align the organization with the strategy.

Jonathan Becher wrote a good piece in his blog on this issue, entitled Culture eats strategy for breakfast. He commented about his experience, and explained why he first concentrated on changing the culture rather than working on strategy or objectives or metrics.

He mentioned a 2005 Harvard Business Review study of more than 100 corporations and thousands of executive assessments showed that culture influences leadership style more than any other factor. Regardless of job function, employees who work in the same organization are 30% more likely to exhibit similar leadership styles than people who do the same job but work in different companies. He also mentioned an article of The Wall Street Journal that concluded that the biggest roadblocks for new leaders include:
1 - Not understanding or caring about the current culture
2 - Assuming the current leadership culture can support the new direction/strategy
3 - Not articulating his/her aspirational culture for the team

Becher finished with the statement: "Goals, initiatives, and metrics. I have a huge appetite for strategy management. But I shouldn’t forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it all starts with culture."

When I mentioned Jonathan Becher's post on Twitter, Bruno Aziza replied me with: "culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However it is not a substitute for strategy!" I agreed with him, you need to embrace both the culture and strategy. A corporate culture is a key factor in a corporate strategy. The number one purpose of strategy management is alignment. It's interesting for the organizations to foster the culture of performance. Bruno Aziza himself co-wrote with Joey Fitts a great book, where they also mention this issue called: Drive Business Performance - Enabling a Culture of Intelligent Execution.


Anonymous said...

Marcus (and Bruno)-

Thanks for the link and further comments on culture and strategy. Please note that I never suggested that culture was a substitute for strategy, just that a well designed strategy is unlikely to be successful unless you consider the culture as well.


Marcus Borba said...


Thanks for comment in my blog. I know you never suggested that culture was a substitute for strategy. I enjoy reading your blog and I know you're a big believer in strategy management. I wrote that you commented about your experience in your post and explained why you first concentrated on changing the culture rather than working on strategy or objectives or metrics.

Best Regards,