There is a famous Peter Drucker quote that says that "culture eats strategy for breakfast". This implies that the culture of your company always determines success regardless of how effective your strategy may be.
When he said that culture eats strategy for breakfast, Drucker pointed out the importance of the human factor in any company. No matter how detailed and solid your strategy is, if the people executing it don't nurture the appropriate culture, your projects will fail.
Culture isn't about comfy chairs and happy hours at the office. Rather, it's more about the ways your employees act in critical situations, how they manage pressure and respond to various challenges, and how they treat partners and customers, and each other.
What Does ‘Culture Eats Strategy’ Mean?
The culture eats strategy for breakfast quote means that no matter how strong your strategic plan is, its efficacy will be held back by members of your team if they don't share the proper culture. When it comes down to it, the people implementing the plan are the ones that make all the difference.
If your employees aren't passionate about your company's vision, they won't be enthusiastic about executing the plan, and then your strategy stands no chance. Your company will struggle to execute daily strategies, and implementing a new one would be doomed to fail.
Company culture happens, whether you work on it or not. It represents the core of the company, and most of it is created by the business founders—sometimes unknowingly. The actions of the founders and executives speak louder than their words in the process of culture creation.
What Do We Mean When We Say “Culture” and “Strategy”?
Corporate culture is never definite. It's very complex and ever-changing. Culture is vulnerable and dependable on the moods of the people who define it. It's a crucial factor for the long-term success of every business. No matter how hard you work on your perfectly organized strategy, in the end, the people bringing it to life are the ones responsible for its success or its demise.
Many company owners and executives focus on the financial, rational, and legal side of the business, but they fail to incorporate the appropriate culture. Culture is the way your company as a whole operates toward fulfilling your goals—but it also includes the behavior and core values of each employee.
While strategy defines direction and focus, culture is the habitat in which strategy lives or dies. Strategy focuses on resourcefulness and skillfulness, while culture defines engagement, passion, and execution.
With proper strategy, you create the rules for playing, but culture determines the way the game will be played.
How Do Culture And Strategy Work Together In A Business?
If not based on the right values, culture eats strategy for lunch (as well as breakfast). However, in a perfect scenario, culture and strategy complement and nurture each other. Strategy and culture should be created simultaneously, making sure they are perfectly aligned. When in sync, they enable each other to create incredible organizational transformations.
When you're aware of the true culture of your business, it is easy to create a strategic business plan because you're familiar with all the factors. Think of culture as a landscape on which you execute your strategic plan. A walk on pavement takes less time and energy than climbing through a mountain pass.
Knowing your culture means knowing what to expect from your team, which comes as a valuable resource in planning a strategy. Your strategy plan has a greater chance of being efficient if you apply a realistic perspective to it. Culture and strategy make a powerful duo when combined perfectly, and you should always incorporate both in your plans if you want your vision to succeed.
How To Implement a Healthy Culture In Your Office
If you're worried that culture is eating strategy at your company, you need to consider implementing a different, healthy culture in the office.
Here are several business tips you can use to start nurturing a company culture that leads to growth:
Conduct a survey and encourage your employees to be open about the things they would change in the company. Ask them what they would like to see in the future and work on making their perfect future career fit in with your company's vision.
Develop a solid vision
All of your employees need to know where the company is going and how their work contributes to your business vision. If your organization has no clear vision, no defined values, and no sense of direction, you're nurturing inadequate culture.
Celebrate small wins on the way to success
Employees will adopt a culture that makes them feel passionate and enthusiastic about your goals if you show them how all short-term wins matter because they lead to the achievement of your long-term vision.
The Bottom Line
Developing a healthy culture is much more than having defined values and a vision. At The Alternative Board, our business advisory services are backed by years of experience helping companies define and implement an adequate culture that leads to long-term success. Culture eats strategy unless it's aligned with the right values. Contact us today to learn more about the ways you can implement a culture that nourishes your business.