Peter Drucker probably sums up the impact of culture perfectly when he said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
Basically, what he is saying is that doesn’t matter what your company mission, vision, and business goals are, if your culture isn’t perfectly aligned with them, then they are never ever going to be realized.
In the continuous battle between culture and strategy, culture is the reigning and undefeated champion.
Just recently, I worked with a firm where the Chief Executive Officer put forward a strategy that relied on the company being agile and yet they made practically no progress towards those objectives.
Because the culture of the company was democratic, every decision had to b discussed and then agreed by committee. This was a process-heavy company, which is not a bad thing per se, but it’s hardly what you would call agile, where decision making is delegated to the appropriate level, and was certainly not agile enough to achieve the CEO’s goals in the timeframe he set for them.
So why does this happen?
Quite simply, it happens because too many leaders don’t know how to change the culture or because changing culture seems hard and, it’s much easier just to set bold goals and hope that somehow they will magically happen.
Before you set your bold visions and goals, you need first to check that the culture is aligned and if not, then you need to change it.
Changing culture is actually not as hard as you think, although it does require hard work and commitment.
Here is a simple easy to follow a three-step approach that I have used many times to help change the culture within an organization’s culture that helped us achieve the goals.
The three steps are Say It, Live It, and Reward It.
The first step is simply to say it, let people know what the is the culture you are looking to create. If people don’t know the type of culture they can’t adopt it or work towards it, and if you don’t define it then you can end up with an accidental culture that may or may not be aligned with your goals.
The challenge here is to know the type of culture you want and to explain it simply so that people can understand it because then they can follow it.
As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see,” and if you want to see the culture you are proposing, then you need to adopt it and live it yourself. You need to be the example, the role model, because if you don’t live it, why should anyone else.
Leadership defines culture because people copy what leaders do, and if you live the culture, then this is what they will reproduce.
I always remember my mum puffing away on her cigarette, telling my sisters not to smoke; it’s bad for you.
Did that work, of course, it didn’t because people model what they see.
When you see people who are living the culture that you want, then recognize them and reward them. Because what gets recognized gets repeated, and also it reinforces the culture by creating additional role models for others to follow.
Changing culture is not easy, but if you follow these three simple steps and are persistent, it becomes much easier.
And when successful, the culture won’t eat your strategy for breakfast; it will help to deliver it in record time!
If you would like to learn more about this then why not set up a call and lets talk.