Peter Drucker is famous for his line “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. I have a good friend, business associate and partner in a new book we are writing called “7 Elements for Strategy Execution” who loves to say “Culture eats strategy for lunch, breakfast and dinner.”
In our book, we write “Abstract as culture may seem, there are very concrete ways to understand it. Once leaders understand it, they can move toward influencing and developing it. “
Consider these fundamental principles when thinking about strategy execution and your organizational culture.
1. It is impossible not to have an organizational culture. The presence of people guarantees one.
You have a culture and understanding it is critical. There are many tools, models, people and organizations out there ready and willing to assist you in this exploration and it often takes an outsider to see it clearly.
2. Everyone owns culture, but leaders have the greatest impact on it.
Leaders create culture. It is as simple as that. A strong leader can make a culture. A weak leader can destroy a culture.
3. Leaders must own and actively manage their organizational culture.
Day in and day out, all the cogs in the wheel contribute to your culture. These moving parts must be managed on a regular basis.
4. Culture normally trumps competency when it comes to results.
Competency, or the lack of it, can be overcome by a strong culture. Teamwork, a strong support system and a feeling that we are all in this together can all contribute to an environment that can typically beat the odds.
5. If you are not getting the results you want as an organization, you may not be who you think you are.
Once again, the necessity to understand and embrace your culture is critical. Be sure you understand the current state of the union. If this picture can’t explain poor results, then you have another problem, but at least you have eliminated one very important factor.
Yes, culture eats strategy for breakfast.