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Which Would You Rather Be? Culture or Strategy?


Are you more of a “button down” or a “tie-dye” kind of person?

I heard a quote this week… “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.  Peter Drucker is the person given credit for this quote; a well-respected voice about business.  As often happens, short sound bites don’t always convey the whole meaning.  Taken at face value, one could think there is actually a tradeoff between culture and strategy.  After reading up on some of Drucker’s ideas and using my own career experiences, I am not sure that he meant culture trumps strategy.

Culture is all about how an organization behaves. Strategy is all about how an organization uses it’s resources to compete.  You can have a great strategy that is poorly executed, usually because the culture cannot/does not behave in a way that can execute the strategy.  Or, the cultural behavior dictates a strategy that focuses on sustaining a culture, not on creating a competitive advantage.

Actually, I believe you need both.  A healthy company holds both in balance. Strategy must take into account the culture and how mature the culture needs to be to execute the strategy. And, the culture must actively work to provide flexibility and awareness to support a competitive strategic direction.  A “culture will eat strategy for lunch” if the strategy is developed in a vacuum and with no consideration for how an organization behaves.

As leaders in manufacturing operations, our task is to cultivate and mature our culture to be flexible and “quick to change” in order to meet whatever competitive challenge faces us.   Things like cross-training, seamless communication, and accountability are just some of the components we have to actively manage daily.  Please know that you have an active part in your site’s ability to deliver your business strategy.

It is about managing your culture as much as it is about executing your daily goals.  As we start the new year, how are you balancing strategy and culture? I invite you to comment below and start the conversation.

Be intentional,