Culture doesn’t eat strategy; it enables it

The most basic philosophical challenge that companies have with anything related to long-term people objectives such as raising engagement or building a strong culture, is that doing so is fundamentally at odds with the repetitive 12 month cycle of strategy dictated by their financial reporting periods.

Once you’re locked into a mindset of chasing this year’s objectives, it’s hard to love any form of deviation that might not deliver results until far into the future, and even then, results that demand the creation of an entirely different set of success benchmarks.

As a result, culture building is often a sporadic series of events that lack any form of strategic intent. Pizza Tuesday and a monthly team building open bar session become things that happen, rather than a reflection of the way we are, or even the way we want to be.

That’s a blatant error, though it must be acknowledged that in part, the unfortunate identity of culture is a result of the language that surrounds it.

Management consultant Peter Drucker is credited with the expression culture eats strategy for breakfast, and it’s the sort of pithy expression that is so loved for its catchiness that it gets repeated a million times per year at conferences all over the world without ever being subject to investigation.

But it does bear investigating. Let’s give it an analogy …

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colinjbrowne