This one is simple: If strategy and culture go head-to-head, bet on the culture.
Here’s why: Too many leaders, especially those who are out to change a company’s strategy, think that putting together values statements, a vision, and a strategic plan with projects, timelines and accountabilities, will successfully alter the success of a business that needs to change. What they come to find out is that even the smartest strategy will fail if it cannot be implemented, and you cannot successfully implement a strategy if it goes against the culture in any significant way.
Kodak was a prime example. For decades their core business was film. All the key investments, all the new products, all the marketing, everything was focused on the film business. So when new leaders, even those from successful businesses elsewhere were brought in with new strategies to turn around Kodak, they hit a brick wall called the Kodak culture which was all about the ingrained film-based culture.
In smaller companies, the culture is normally a reflection of the founder. If the company needs to change to succeed, it’s often the case that either the founder needs to champion culture change, or be replaced.
Having been a key part of turnarounds at dozens of companies including Fortune 500, Inc 5000 and market leaders in numerous industries, I can attest to the fact that success requires attention to the culture.
© Copyright 2016 Bob Legge
Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org