Strategy is capability, culture is suitability

Strategy is capability, culture is suitability

Relationship between culture and strategy

Lately I facilitated a discussion around the relationship between culture and strategy on LinkedIn. The many responses included rich and varied perspectives and opinions on culture and strategy, its meaning and importance.

I include several distinctive views below, illustrated by direct quotes from the LinkedIn discussion thread – unfortunately it was not possible to acknowledge everyone who made helpful contributions.

Philip Flynn:

This is a bit like horse and carriage you can’t have one without the other …. having said that strategy is actions (not always unfortunately) and culture is behaviour … strategy is what’s done and culture is how it’s done …. of the two, culture is the more important in the long term … example Apple: many different strategies over the years but one sustaining culture.

JP Donnelly:

Strategy is capability, culture is suitability.

Organizational culture eats strategy - Strategy is capability, culture is suitability

Elliot Schreiber:

The reason that Drucker said that culture eats strategy for breakfast is that he saw it as the predominant force in the company that determined the strategy development and also if strategy could be executed. Too many people believe that strategy is what management decides to do after analysis. However, strategy can only succeed if the organization is aligned around the strategy and the resources are appropriately allocated. Many companies develop a “great strategy” only to see if fail because they have not realized the importance of organizational alignment. And, alignment is only possible when the culture (“how we do things around here”) has a bias toward alignment. This is because culture governs the way employees feel, think and act. As such it can, and usually does, have a more powerful effect on human motivation than strategy. In fact, a strategy will mean nothing – and go nowhere – if the organizational culture is not appropriate to support it.

Ondrej Rudolf:

Alignment enables execution. Culture supports alignment. Strategy designs culture. So obviously there are more drivers involved in executing a strategy than plan and a timeline.

Dave Gray:

Culture is behavior and to understand and leverage culture we need to understand not only the behavior but what motivates it. Behavior is driven by assumptions, beliefs, values and organizational reward systems. Culture is rational in the sense that people behave in a way that is a rational for response to the system they inhabit. Transplant a person to a different culture and you will see their behavior change. Thus the behavior is a group phenomenon.

Con Polkinghorne:

If the organisation doesn’t have the right culture it will under-mine a strategy. The strategy may be to change the culture its the timing of the execution that will have a large bearing on whether it will be implemented. Sometimes you have to reshape the organisation in order to be able to implement the strategy.

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom

Blog Comments

Thanks Torben! That is a really good insight into the close connection strategy and culture have with each other.

Strategy cannot succeed without cultivating the right culture. What would be the right method to prep your team for the new strategy good or bad?

Could we introduce the strategy through a game using gamification elements?

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