Culture vs. Strategy

July 26, 2023

Peter Drucker famously said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and yet how often have you been in a strategy session, or a meeting about achieving business objectives, where there is no mention of culture?

Or vice versa, a discussion about shifting behaviours and culture within your business that doesn’t take into account the organisation’s strategic plans?

The reality is that while strategy and cultures are intrinsically interconnected most companies deal with the two things independently.

What do we mean by culture and strategy?

In most organisations the purpose of strategy is generally better understood than culture. Defined as “a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim”, strategic plans outline where we want to get to and how we intend to do so.

Culture by contrast is a little more complex. Often it is confused with the climate of an organisation, or in other words the current “mood”. In reality culture is longer lasting, and is the combination of values, skills, systems, decisions and structures that make up a business. The culture doesn’t shift month to month, whereas the climate can be significantly impacted by events. One way to think of culture is the personality of an organisation or “the way we do things around here”.

Why do culture and strategy rely on each other?

Delivering on strategy requires action aligned to the objectives that you’re trying to achieve. You can have the most articulate, ground breaking, well thought out strategic plan but if your people do not carry out the necessary behaviours then it will come to nothing. This requires a culture that aligns with your plans. Your recruitment, your processes, your training plans, the way you manage and reward performance, how you live into your values… all of it will determine the success of your strategy.

This assumes of course, that you develop each of these things with an eye on the culture you are building in relation to strategic goals. And in that way the two are dependent on each other. If you haven’t got a clear vision and strategy you cannot develop a culture that aligns to business objectives. Similarly, if you haven’t defined what type of culture you need then you are rolling the dice on whether your organisation will deliver on your strategy.

As a leader how can I build an aligned strategy and culture

  • Clear outcomes: get clear on what it is you want to achieve as a business and define the behaviours those outcomes rely on. Actively nurture those behaviours.
  • “Walk the talk” – remember that culture flows from the top. As a leader you need to embody the behaviours you want to see across your organisation.
  • Clarity of purpose: ensure that strategic plans are aligned to your mission and values – what is it you want to be known for as a organisation?
  • People – build a team that embodies the values, behaviours and thinking that will deliver your outcomes
  • Prioritsation: make culture and strategy a priority in your planning sessions. Don’t leave either to chance.

Bottom line culture and strategy rely on the other and as such if you ignore one the other will erode any success you achieve. Take the time to bring both to the forefront of your business planning to ensure you achieve the outcomes you are aiming for.

Related Posts

hand holding scale with a plant on one side and a piggy bank on the other. The piggy bank is heavier than the plant.

Mentorship over Money: Empower your teams with the gift of Leadership

Go beyond traditional monetary gifts for your teams and instead invest your time through mentorship; a powerful way to unlock potential, foster growth, collaboration, and professional development. It’s more than a bonus — it’s a lasting investment in your team’s success. Showcase your belief in their untapped potential and empower your team to excel with the lasting gift of mentorship!

Read Article »

Insights straight to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter

If you choose to subscribe we will only use your details to send our newsletter or respond to a query. You may unsubscribe at any point.