Culture eats strategy for breakfast, AGAIN and AGAIN!!!

this post is an excerpt from the book Diamond Leadership.

In 2011, the consulting firm Deloitte published a report titled Leadership Design[1]. In it, one of the chapters has the intriguing title:

 

Culture eats strategy for breakfast… and leadership is just the starter. 

What do they want to say with this provocative title?

This means that when a strategy is not supported by and not aligned with the culture of an organization and the behaviors of the people, the chances of it being successfully implemented reduce significantly. 

We can see strategy and culture as the two key pillars that together carry the weight of a house. The strategy gives structure to the building, and culture provides the energy required to lift the house. When one does not support the other, there arises a common difficulty from which many organizations suffer.

This interplay between strategy and culture can be described in a simple way:

– Outstanding culture + Bad strategy = Entertainment in the first 10 minutes, and then we have no money.

– Excellent strategy + Bad culture = Excluded and disengaged people, filled with stress, who do not have the energy to achieve basic goals.

– Outstanding culture + Excellent strategy = Involved and energized people, living with a common vision and values. 

The latest business experiences show that culture is crucial to the performance of an organization. On average, the culture is eight times more important than business strategy when it comes to performance.

As a matter of fact, the culture is so powerful and important, that when it is not in alignment with the business strategy, it is your greatest and most terrible enemy, stronger than any opponent in the market.

Using the plainest of words, if we continue to behave in the same way as we have until now, if we continue to function from the comfort zone of old values ​​and behaviors which clearly do not function well, we’ll end up at a dead end.

Today, this is not the case only for few organizations – this is true for many organizations, nations and the humanity as a whole.

The golden key to a high level of creativity, innovation, and sustainable performance in the 21st century is an aligned and innovative organizational culture. This culture is your greatest ally, or your main enemy if it is weak and misaligned​​

Having written all this, the next key question is:


How are we creating organizations, institutions and nations with exceptional and innovative cultures, which are in support of the highest goals of humanity?

The answer/s to such important questions cannot and must not come from one person or a small influential group of people. I will therefore not try to give any answers; my intention is rather to shine a light on how to find the best answers and solutions to the pressing challenges faced by many organizations, nations and humanity as a whole.

The answer to these questions can and need to come from the system as a whole. They need to be co-created, to reflect the collective intelligence of the system.

In order to create exceptional organizations and nations, and to respond to the enormous challenges confronting businesses and the mankind in this millennium, in addition to creating an innovative organizational culture, we require a few post conventional leadership practices[2]:

1) Systemic Leadership and “Co–Creation”

2) Creative Dialogue 

3) Presence


The themes I am writing about in this blog are expanded in my latest book Diamond Leadership available on Kindle. 


[1] Deloitte “Leadership by Design” pdf

[2] I use the word practices because these skills cannot be learned only from books, they need to be continuously practiced.

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