Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
It is mind-boggling how much investment (time & money) is made into corporate strategy – with some larger organisations hiring a full-time person (or team) to oversee ‘Strategy and Innovation’ – commendable initiatives, but alas without focusing on culture transformation the entire scheme is drastically impeded. Suffice to say, there are probably left-overs after breakfast is done; as culture continues to chomp its way through strategy for lunch and dinner too!
No matter what business strategy or strategic plan you try to implement with your team, its success and efficacy are going to be held back by the people implementing the plan. In essence, if the people driving the strategy aren't passionate about the change, or worse, are apathetic to their job and to their organisation then chances are limited that you will execute your plan with the desired results.
Organisational culture is intangible; and as such can be difficult to influence. It is the personality of your organisation – the moments created by people breathing life into your values; your unique ‘way of working’ or ‘protocol.’ If the current culture of your organisation is misaligned with your strategy, I suggest you take a hard look at how to make some tweaks and clean up your house. Rather than one dominating the other; Strategy and Culture should dine together with the intimacy of long-lost friends; here are some things to consider to catalyse this reunion:
Understand your number 1 measure of business success – at the top of the pyramid lies your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), a game-changing outcome of effectively executing your strategy combined with a key metric for business success – this true-North metric could be financial or a performance denominator. You should be crystal clear of your ‘winning moves’ – the plays that will allow your organisation to achieve, extend and exploit its market position. Now ask yourself this: does everyone in the organisation understand where you are going?
Breathe life into your values – Organisational values are not a bunch of words listed on your company website or a checkbox exercise; they are your business DNA. If strangers were to watch you (your organisation) for a few days, what words would they use to describe you and the way you do your work? What problem do you exist to solve and for whom? Most importantly, why does it matter to you?
Hire for attitude – If culture hinges on the web of people that are associated with your organisation, it is critical that new hires embody your values from the get-go. Find creative ways to assess your potential new recruits – (go beyond conventional personality profiling)– immerse a potential recruit in a team huddle or meeting and observe their behaviour; invite them on one of your teambuilding days or take them out for lunch with a couple of colleagues. You will be amazed what you can learn by throwing someone in the deep-end; a surefire way to diagnose whether they are a cultural #InstaFit or #InstaMiss.
Really lead by example – There is no use preaching from the pulpit; culture is a unanimous and all- encompassing way of being that not only unites a team but fosters the right environment for strategic execution. I’ve been known to bust-a-move with my team (on occasion) – it’s all part of our culture – as a leader you will need to drop the pretence and simply be. Energy is infectious; ensure that the energy you exude helps not hinders; and purposefully inspires people to deliver.