Peter Drucker was the “father” of management consulting. He was an insightful thinker and prolific writer, and his impact on business cannot be overstated. I have great respect for him.
Yet I strongly disagree with something he once said that has been much repeated in recent years: culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Now don’t get me wrong. As those of you who follow my blog know, it’s not that I think culture is unimportant. Just the opposite. Culture is critical … but it’s not separate from strategy. Determining the type of culture you should have is very much a strategic issue.
Strategy is more than just a mechanistic exercise that looks at products, markets, financials and things of that sort. A strategy blind to culture is a strategy almost certain to fail. Your strategic process should examine your current culture and identify your desired culture – one that is innovative, service-oriented, sales-driven, or whatever you deem necessary.
But there is also a more general sense of culture. Specifically, a culture that is engaged, that connects with hearts, not just heads, that is fueled by want-to-do, not was-told-to-do, is a culture that delivers discretionary effort and exceptional performance. Yet even in this more general sense, choosing to cultivate such a culture is itself a strategic issue.
Strategy without culture is half-baked. Culture without strategy is just an ingredient. But strategy that includes culture is a complete meal.