Management guru Peter Drucker famously said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and the race was on for consultants and coaches to help companies implement a winning culture. There are many stories of successes, but there are even more failures, often due to pursuing the wrong culture.
Here are three examples of implementing the wrong culture.
Not knowing your “why.” Culture is the expression of your company’s distinct “why.” The company’s culture should be founded on the key stakeholder’s purpose, values, goals, and non-negotiables (e.g., we will do this, we will never do that) and aligned with the business mission. That’s what makes it genuine, and authentic culture is powerful. If you do not know your why, you are missing an essential means to align and empower your organization to multiply your customers.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
– Simon Sinek
Implementing a “counterfeit” culture. A “counterfeit” culture is one that has been fabricated to support a vision without accounting for the company’s nature and its “why.” No matter how well-intended, a “counterfeit” culture is often based solely upon something the company wants to do, without considering whether they are able or equipped to do so. A common indicator of an organization living under a “counterfeit” culture is passive-aggressiveness, where passion has been replaced with foot-dragging.
“I prefer clarity over agreement.”
– Dennis Prager
You are ignoring culture. All organizations operate according to a culture. If you don’t communicate and implement a specific culture, the organization will default to a culture of its own making. Like a rudderless boat, it just does what it does. This adds the risk and challenge of working around what the organization chooses to think and how to behave. A typical indicator is the effort it takes to implement change.
“Nature abhors a vacuum.”
Drucker wasn’t saying the strategy isn’t essential, but he emphasized that strategy requires execution, and execution requires people. If the strategy is contrary to the company culture, the strategy doesn’t stand a chance no matter how profound. And one of the primary reasons why studies show that only 13% to 50% of strategic plans succeed.
The sole responsibility of defining the correct and genuine culture for an organization belongs to the business owner or CEO. It cannot be delegated. It is not a collective leadership decision nor an HR task. It is all up to you.
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