Culture and strategy

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker

Successful leaders know the huge impact that company culture can have on performance. Some, like Workday co-founder and CEO Aneel Bhusri, go as far as personally interviewing their first five hundred employees to create and maintain the right culture for their company.

For organizations with a strong established culture, it’s important for leaders to step back and reassess whether their culture is still aligned with their business strategy.

In an HBR series on corporate culture, the authors provide the example of a traditional manufacturer that was trying to become a full solutions provider. A study of the company’s culture revealed that leaders were seen as hierarchical and authoritative, which was stifling innovation. The leadership team recognized that if they were to fulfill their strategic ambitions, they needed more risk taking and autonomy and less hierarchy and centralized decision making. Through careful organizational changes and initiatives, leaders were able to cultivate a learning-based culture while keeping a focus on achieving real benefits for the business. Within a year, this resulted in dramatic improvements to employee satisfaction and customer Net Promoter Scores.

As a leader, how could you build a clear picture of your organization’s culture and the behaviors it is encouraging?

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