Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast! Part 1

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast - Axiom Blog

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast! Part 1

My colleague, Rob Beachy, and I recently conducted a training session on strategy for the Minnesota Chapter of The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA). We talked about mission and vision as key components in developing strategy. However, there is one critical component to success that most companies ignore at their peril. Culture. And, culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Peter Drucker, the leader in developing the principals of management education, famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Meaning the culture of your company determines your success regardless of how effective you believe your strategy to be. At the end of the day, the people implementing your strategic plan – and how they do it among the relationships within your organization – make all the difference.

Culture is Visible in:

  • How colleagues treat each other, business partners and customers
  • How they manage pressure and respond to challenges, pivotal situations, opportunities and course corrections of the business
  • The way your employees act, manage and lead decision making

Culture is:

  • Created by the behaviors your leadership demonstrates and, more importantly, tolerates
  • The foundation for trust and reliability within a hierarchy
  • Long-standing, deeply rooted and (usually) slow to change
  • Based on your values, symbols, beliefs, history and traditions
  • What defines the way things get done, but is likely invisible, intangible and difficult to define

Culture Can be Changed by:

  • Leadership by someone with a vision capable of managing change over time
  • Collaboration across and through an organization
  • Clarity of the vision and communicating its permissions, boundaries and expectations

Company culture will happen whether you work on it or not. Many times, culture is set unknowingly by the founder with a resonating statement or act that becomes the epitome of how things are done for generations. The actions of the founders and leaders speak louder than their words, memos, weekly meetings or process documents ever can.

Culture is crucial for the long-term success of any business, and often responsible for its demise. Like strategy, corporate culture is never finished. It’s complex, malleable and in constant flux. It takes day-to-day thought and management. Many company leaders are focused on the financial and operational side of their business, while delegating culture to others. These leaders fail to define, embrace and shape the organization’s culture in ways that allow the decision making and change needed to win. 

If you’d like an objective assessment of your company culture, we can help. Contact Rob, rbeachy@axiomcom.com, or Craig cdick@axiomcom.com.

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