Is Your Company Culture Eating Your Business Strategy for Breakfast?

February 23, 2018 2:37 pm Published by

Peter Drucker allegedly said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” While the quote has never been categorically proven to come from the mind of the late, great business expert—it certainly sounds like something Mr. Drucker would say. As a business coach and business strategy professional, I’d have to say that I also see plenty of evidence in the business world that the environment within a company can make or break a business’s strategy. What are things like in your business? Is your company culture eating your business strategy for breakfast?

You Need More Than A Great Idea

 It doesn’t matter how great your company’s ideas or products are. You need more than a great idea to grow your business. If your company isn’t a place where employees feel like they are part of something great—and have a significant part in driving the company forward—there’s a strong chance that great idea will never make it to market.

 Apple made headlines recently with the announcement that they were bringing a lot of jobs back to the United States and would be investing billions in the US economy. Of course, that came on the heels of a major misstep in which they admitted that they had slowed down the operational speed of their iPhones in an attempt (they claimed) to preserve battery life. What upset a lot of Apple customers was the way it was handled. Instead of being transparent and telling customers what they were doing, they made the move behind peoples’ backs. Many were left wondering if it wasn’t simply a ploy to get customers to upgrade to new (more expensive) phones earlier than planned.

Culture Feeds Strategy

Contrast that with this quote from founder Steve Jobs when Apple blundered in the earlier days of the iPhone during what became known as “Antennagate.”

 “So we do all this because we love our users. And when we fall short — which we do sometimes — we try harder. We pick ourselves up, we figure out what’s wrong, and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying our users, and that makes it all worth it.”

Apple has long been known for innovation, excellence in design, and for fostering an “outsider” mentality that has often gone against the prevailing wisdom of the computer industry. That attitude was also evident within their culture as is evidenced in the kind of things Steve Jobs looked for in key employees. The way they thought (Remember: “Think Different”?) created an almost cult-like following. Their culture fed their strategy.

Some today wonder aloud if the current Apple culture feeds their strategy—or is feeding on it. While I’m certainly not ready to write Apple off as a significant player just yet, current events are a reminder that corporate culture isn’t something you “set and forget.” Culture is something you build, maintain, and improve.

What’s Your Next Step?

This is why we include a section on corporate culture in our free online Business Scalability Assessment. This assessment is a good place to start if you’re looking to transform your company and scale up your business. If you want to grow your company, make sure you pay attention to your corporate culture as well as your strategy. Don’t let your culture eat your strategy for breakfast.

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This post was written by Chuck Kocher