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“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

– Peter Drucker.


The strategy was elegant.  Complex.  Exciting.

And it was articulated repeatedly, with visuals; with discussion.

Those in the organization that were responsible for innovating within the strategy and for marketing the solution and for selling the service, they needed to fully get the strategy.

They needed to fully understand.

But, in my role in the organization, I didn’t need to fully understand.

And I didn’t.

But here’s what I did understand —

The strategy required specific organizational knowledge, competencies, and behaviors to effectively execute and deliver the results as envisioned.

And the organization didn’t have those.

So with every presentation of the strategy, I was conflicted.  Despite being consistently motivated by the possibility, I was increasingly concerned about the capability.

I was imagining how things would play out.

The culture was going to eat that strategy for breakfast.

*     *     *     *     *

Drucker’s culture eats strategy for breakfast is a clarion call to leaders of organizations everywhere.

You better pay serious attention to building your culture in sync with your strategy.

Growth plans and business models cannot be sustainably effective without an enabling and supportive culture.

The performance envisioned— in sales, in growth, in profitability — will never be realized.

What makes this incredibly difficult, I think, is that leaders must expend considerable energy and effort on both external and internal priorities, simultaneously.  External on the market, customer needs, competitor weaknesses.  Internally, on structure, process, culture, talent.

And each priority — the external, and the internal — have an associated level of difficulty that, well, gives pause.  Each, individually, is challenging; together, daunting.

But when leaders accept the twin challenge, and make building their culture as much a priority as crafting their strategy, good things will happen.

If they intensely focus only on crafting that compelling strategy, they will in fact only be making culture’s breakfast.

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