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Strategy or Culture – which comes first?

By 11th February 2020 June 16th, 2020 No Comments

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. The implication seems to be here that one is vastly more important than the other. Of course you can have a great business culture in your organisation with high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. That will only take you so far though. Without a strategy, implemented through the culture, your growth will be slow.

Time For Brunch

So what we are looking for is a brunch model. This is the finest meal of the day because it does away with the need for breakfast and lunch with a mid-morning feast. In the same way, you can remove the conflict between what can be seen as the harder edged strategy and the more human faced culture by combining the two. Role out your strategic goals and achieve employee buy-in at the the same time. Achieve your growth targets by encouraging aspiration in your team. Define the company vision by bringing everyone in on the mission.

This dual approach doesn’t mean going back to the drawing board on both strategy and culture. Let’s be clear – it’s possible not to have a strategy and plenty of businesses tick over without looking further than the next quarter. We don’t advocate this of course but it’s an option. However, it is impossible not to have a business culture. That’s because you have people working with you and for you and either you set the tone or they do.

Responsibility For Results

Let’s look at brunch again. The product at your brunch venue of choice can be superb. The eggs are just the way you like them, the seating is comfortable, the price is acceptable. So will you return? Well if you are served by Tom then yes, you will. He smiles at you, he remembers you from last time, he comments on your dog, he expresses approval at your coffee of choice. However, if you are served by Will, you won’t be darkening the door again. Will gets no eye contact and his apron is grimy, he slops the coffee in your saucer, he brings the check while you are still eating. Get the picture?

The strategy of serving a good brunch remains the same. The culture of encouraging repeat business couldn’t be more different. Creating a culture that is flexible, that encourages innovation and where individuals are happy to take responsibility for results, that’s how you implement your strategy. That’s why, when we’re doing strategic work with a company, we run team workshops to encourage a culture of aspiration. Equally, it’s great if your team are highly motivated but this has to be channelled into productivity as well as positivity.

Rather than viewing culture as something that will sap your strategic goals, view it as a partner in the steps to achieving your vision. Talk to DNA about where you want to go and we will help you get there. We’ll even buy you brunch.