“Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
You've probably heard that expression before. It comes from Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant & writer. The quote reinforces the point that even a bulletproof strategy can be wounded if it's not reinforced by the right culture. Culture, he argues, may even be more important than the strategy itself.
But honestly, why does one have to be more influential than the other? Aren't they both incredibly important?
Just like there isn't one strategy, there certainly isn't one culture. We can look to our personal lives and professional experiences to confirm this. And it doesn't necessarily mean that's a bad thing.
Now, there are bad strategies and there are toxic cultures - don't get me wrong. We know a perfect strategy can't be supported or executed by a bad culture.
It's just that we all know the magic happens when the two great pieces come together. So, why is it so hard for this to occur? Is the culture really the thing to blame?
Or...is it the fact that the strategy didn't really account for the culture in the first place?
Considerations for culture should always be a part of the strategy. Hint: those considerations are more than "do we have the right tools, people, and processes in place to deliver on our goals?"
To me, this conversation around culture sounds more like: "Do people feel safe to speak up? Do they ask for help? How should we get the work done? Why are we operating in this particular way? What do we value? Where do we go for coaching? Does everyone know what's expected? How do we speak to each other? What can I do to make things better?"
Strategy should be sitting right across the table, holding its cup of coffee and listening to culture's every word.
And after taking a big gulp, strategy would probably look at culture and say...
"We've got a lot of work to do."