Connecting Culture and Strategy
What is the connection between culture and attaining strategic goals such as innovation, brand promise, talent attraction and retention, collaboration, employee engagement and trust in leadership?
Strategy is typically carried out in an organization through program and projects. But then what happens when the strategy demands programs or projects that are in conflict with the way the organization is organized, the way people are organized, how people are accustomed to working within their existing environment, the way they are measured (metrics) in place and what they consider success? Why do so many organizations struggle to execute well? At the end of the day it is about the people and the culture. Organizational culture speaks to the very real issue of “what is it like to work here, and what are the attitudes and behaviours I need to fit in and succeed”. In other words what employees believe will make them successful based on the experiences they have in the company.
These beliefs drive decisions and actions that are often not in line with the stated values and direction but are the direct result of the behaviours and actions of the leaders (which is a whole topic on its own).
While there are many underlying elements affecting performance, our experience shows that performance levels depend on and often differ according to the degree to which goals are being effectively interpreted and operationalized. The degree to which an organization is successful in implementing its vision or strategy is, more often than not, a reflection of its culture.
Either due to non-awareness or conscious discounting of its impact, many organizations fail to invest in creating and sustaining an organizational culture that aligns human capital energies with immediate and strategic organizational direction and goals. These goals can be high employee engagement, innovation ideas flowing as required, collaboration between each other and teams.
When implementing new strategies, you need to ask yourself:
1. Would that new product or service get implemented quicker and better if the organization encouraged achievement such that people readily take on challenging goals and accepted individual accountability?
2. Would problems in execution be solved quicker and better if there was an environment which encouraged team involvement, motivated people to serve as role models and ensured that ideas come forth?
3. Would consolidations of internal divisions or external organizations generate the expected returns if the cultures of those organizations were understood well beforehand and consolidation plans comprehended these differences?
By identifying and correcting the gaps between Current culture and an Ideal culture that enables achievement, innovation, talent attraction, development and retention and positive collaboration, organizations will be better equipped to realize their objectives and proactively shape their market space.
Here is a link to a recent article on how Zappos decided that Culture was critical to executing on key strategic imperatives. http://www.briansolis.com/2011/04/zappos-tony-hsieh-happiness/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+briansolis+%28Brian+Solis%29
Recently I released a new book, an Amazon Bestseller called 7 Elements of Strategy Execution available on Amazon in Canada and Amazon in the US. In it, you can read about how to create a culture that will ensure strategy success. This book provides a concise, prescriptive analysis of the links between strategy execution and organizational culture. Feel free to contact me to discuss your strategy execution questions firstname.lastname@example.org.