Culture eats strategy for breakfast
For a strategy to be deemed 'successful', a culture can make or break its fate. Drucker's quote does not suggest that a strategy is destined to fail when placed within a difficult internal culture, but more so that a blissful marriage between culture and Strategy Execution is a great foundation for success.
And what is the result of culture embracing strategy? Some estimates suggest growth rates of 30% and profits increasing by 17%.
Over the past 20+ years I have worked with companies in many areas, and in that time have learned that great organisations have a culture that sets them apart from the pack. Unfortunately, research still indicates an abnormally low number of companies feeling that they have the culture to execute their strategy successfully.
However, with the right blend of culture, strategy, and the Strategy Execution tools to guide the way, alignment, engagement and continuous improvement is achievable. With that in mind, based off my experience working with organisations that once felt their culture and Strategy Execution couldn't be aligned, this is what I consider to be the key elements to marrying the two.
When I look at all of the great marriages over the years, and specifically at the ones that stand the test of time, you find it is not because the two people are the same or one just does as the other says, it is because they embrace the fact they are different and learn ways to work as one, with the love and passion they started with.
So, what exactly goes into making the ‘right’ culture to execute your strategy?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to answering this question, and it certainly isn’t a case of your organisation being ‘modern’, or offering employee benefits. That won’t cut it.
These are the different ingredients in providing the right culture to execute your strategy:
When you put in place any combination of the above ingredients you find your organisation in a position where its culture can be the foundation for successful strategy execution. And with the c-suite largely finding the development of corporate culture to be an oft-forgotten element of their success, getting it right can lead to a 20% increase in performance over organisations that don’t.
That leads us to the natural question of whether your strategy embraces your culture.
I’m sure you have all at some point in your careers seen the corporate strategy being circulated at the beginning of a financial year. Or even had the Head of HR roll out KPIs or personal objectives for the year. They’re things we see but really can’t draw the dots on how it applies to us. We know that when management communicate that there is a downturn in the market and they need to make savings all we can think about is, will it be my job next?
This can be said for marriage as well. Things will happen in your life that affects your family, it could be your partner’s side of the family or yours, and depending on how strong your marriage is, will affect you both in different ways. In a great marriage, you embrace the other half, feeling each other’s pain and supporting one another. Sharing experiences and comforting each other through these times makes the bond between you stronger.
Where I have found the real magic in a long-lasting corporate culture is when the strategy embraces the different parts of its business, bringing them together to form a common view and feeling of the company. Yet the reality is that typically only 14% of employees understand an organisation’s strategy.
Estimates suggest the union of culture and strategy can bring growth rates of 30% and a 17% increase in profit.
When aligned, if you have environmental threats which impact the company you are far more attached at all levels, meaning you can react quickly and course correct as necessary to bring everything back into balance. When you do this in a solid and connected way, all levels of the company are aware of the changes, and what they need to do to affect the change required to meet the new demands.
Now, the strange thing is when we choose a partner for life, we all have likes and dislikes, but there are things that we can say are common. Say, someone who will always be there for you, always gives you support, is financially stable, helps you to grow and expand your experiences, and finally, makes you feel secure and can trust them. Sounds like a great partner, right?
Well, in a company it’s the same when it comes to culture and strategy. It all starts with the right partner and enterprise solution. There are 7 requirements for finding the right partner, and keeping these in mind is crucial for making the best choice:
Selecting the right enterprise solution is like choosing the right partner for life – it should be a natural, yet obvious choice in the end. You want a partner to be there to help your company grow and steer its way through what the world throws at it over time. How else will you stand the test of time?
i-nexus prides itself on giving the world’s largest organisations the tools to bring out the best in their strategy. No matter the methodology in use, be that Hoshin Kanri or Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measures, our Strategy Execution software helps marry up culture and strategy, giving senior leaders the visibility needed to effectively manage any major corporate change.
When you make the right choices, for the right reasons (culture), your company will stand not only the test of time but grow and be a shining light to all the competitors out there that said you couldn’t make it.
We stand behind all our clients to ensure they are getting the best out of what we offer, and to ensure they are meeting the key goals they wanted to achieve, as do our friends and family in our married life. I am sure everyone would agree that the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip would have been filled with challenges, but here we are today showing with the right support around you, you can make it happen.
We’re running a series of workshops designed for people like yourself who want to get the best out of their strategy.
From top tips to real-life examples of success, we’re delivering an educational series to help safeguard your Strategy Execution.
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We have a wealth of resources freely available to digest, all designed to help you achieve your strategic goals. We've hand-picked the below to set you on the right track:
Andrew Leonard is i-nexus' Senior Sales Executive. He's passionate about driving a solid corporate culture while connecting and cascading strategic goals and objectives to all levels. As Part of i-nexus, he mentors companies on how to bridge the gap between corporate strategy and business objectives.