There's a popular saying that "Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast". The original quote is usually ascribed to the late great management guru Peter Drucker - though, like many good quotes ("Elementary, my Dear Watson"; and "Luke, I am your Father" among them), there's no record of Drucker actually saying it.
That aside, it's a powerful quote, and one which has entered the psyche of many executive teams. The truth is that culture and strategy are not mutually exclusive, but natural complements.
Strategy: "A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim."
Culture: "The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society."
There is no doubt that a flawless strategy coupled with a flawed culture is never going to be executed effectively. And while an organisation that has a great culture can be innovative and productive, it is ultimately unlikely to be effective in the long-term, as the organisation will be working at cross-purposes.
Both culture and strategy have a habit of being elusive in many organisations, and both are critical to long-term success.
In order for an organisation to have long-term sustainability and impact, an effective organisational culture will be aligned to a coherent long-term strategy. Culture needs to eat strategy for breakfast in order to sustain it - and research has shown that skipping breakfast can have long-term health consequences.
Research from Walking the Talk and Stamford Associates found that 60% of global investors have personal experience of being enhanced or diluted by the culture of an organisation, and are increasingly avoiding companies that do not have a culture that supports their strategy, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald. That doesn't mean, however, that they will invest in companies that have a great culture but no strategy.
In order to sustain and benefit from a great culture, you need a great strategy. And in order to execute a great strategy, you need a great culture. Let's not forget the importance of culture, but shouldn't you be eating strategy for breakfast too?
Speaking of which, if you'd like to eat Strategy for Breakfast, you may want to consider joining the Workforce Planning Council. We meet quarterly in Sydney and Melbourne to share best practices and experiences in Strategic Workforce Planning. Contact us if you're interested in joining, and we will send you all the details for your city.