While there is a question about who actually said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast (or lunch),” there is little disagreement about the impact of culture on the workings of a company. This is probably why Harvard Business Review dedicates a five-article spotlight to “The Culture Factor” in its January-February 2018 magazine.

Depending on your experience, the articles can introduce you to or refresh you on the importance and complexities of culture. The articles discuss culture styles, successful culture change practices, cultural convergence, and strategic effectiveness of culture. One article offers an assessment of your organization’s cultural profile.

The first article, “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture” explains the difference between strategy and culture. “Strategy offers a formal logic for the company’s goals and orients people around them. Culture expresses goals through values and beliefs and guides activity through shared assumptions and group norms.”

It goes on to define culture as “the tacit social order of an organization: It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive.”

Of course, the converse is equally powerful. The same energy can be released to thwart transformation to a visionary future state or derail planned implementation of a desired organizational goal.

As another HBR article notes, “Culture is like the wind. It is invisible, yet its effect can be seen and felt. When it is blowing in your direction, it makes for smooth sailing. When it is blowing against you, everything is more difficult.”1

A leader trying to transform company culture or corral its power to deploy a strategy, would be wise to understand culture well.

Contact us and we can help you better understand the cultural influences that may be impacting your company.

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[1] “Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate” by Bryan Walker and Sarah A. Soule, Harvard Business Review, June 20, 2017.