Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast!

Jann FreedLeading Leave a Comment

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

It is said that Peter Drucker used this phrase to indicate that corporate culture is more important than company strategy.  Yet, many companies are making decisions that are destroying the culture.  I often use these metaphors to describe culture:

  • Invisible tapestry.  We often can’t see it, but culture weaves people together.
  • Glue.  It is the glue that holds people together.  Or in the absence of culture, people do not feel connected.
  • Operating system.  It is powerful because it directs how people feel, act, and what they believe.

Harvey Mackay has been writing a lot about the power of culture lately.  Mackay said recently:

“It’s no surprise that Fortune’s Best Companies happen to be many of the same companies listed as the best places to work.  Companies that are concentrating on culture are seeing the biggest payoffs because they are putting their employees first.”

How well do you know your culture?  Mackay cites management expert Richard Hagberg on and his assessment to determine culture.  

  • What 10 words would you use to describe your company?
  • Around here what’s really important?
  • Around here who gets promoted?
  • Around here what behaviors get rewarded?

Notice how the questions tend to focus on rewards and recognition.  People tend to behave in ways that are rewarded and often reward systems are dysfunctional.  We often are not rewarding the behaviors we desire.  A classic article I share in my leadership workshops and courses can be found here.

I truly believe employee satisfaction is a pre-requisite for customer satisfaction.  Focus on employees and they will take care of the rest.  

How have you assessed the culture within your sphere of influence?

What words would you use to describe your company?

What behaviors are you rewarding?

Is your strategy eating up your culture?  If so, what are you going to do about it?

Update on my Social Justice Project:  So I put together about two dozen baggies to distribute to homeless people on street corners.  Included in each baggie in small sizes:  toothbrush and cover, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, granola bar, and two dollars.  Starting last weekend, I have given the bags out as I see people who need them and it is a rewarding experience.  I make sure I talk to each one and look them in the eyes (following Pope Francis’ advice).  The reception has been a gift.  My plan is to always have my car stocked with these baggies so I am prepared to give, but the gift is what I am receiving in return.  It is worth the effort and expense and makes me feel better than just driving on by.  

TIP: While I purchased most of the items at Walgreens, the Dollar Store or General Dollar is another good place to find most of these items at good prices!