4 Steps to Take When Strategy and Culture Are at Odds

strategy and culture are at odds alignment tug of war

Growth is Limited When Strategy and Culture Are at Odds
When strategy and culture are at odds, it is nearly impossible to reach your business potential.  Why?  Because your strategy must go through your people and your culture to be implemented.

Examples of Misaligned Strategies and Cultures
Imagine the struggle when your overall strategy competes with your corporate culture.

  • Customer Focus Example: Imagine the difficulty in executing a strategy to deliver long-term and relationship-based value (a customer intimate approach) like Whole Foods Market in an organizational culture that values short-term, transactional interactions (a transactional customer approach) like McDonalds.
  • Market Approach Example: Imagine the difficulty of bringing new and innovative software solutions to market (a market leader approach) like Tesla if the predominant organizational culture focuses on legacy hardware products and only introduces new products to market after the market has shown they work (a market adopter approach) like Kia.
  • Decision-Making Approach Example: Imagine the difficulty of making effective and timely decisions in the field if the predominant organizational culture values all significant decisions be made by top leadership (a centralized approach) like the US Military versus allowing individuals to make decisions at the front line (a decentralized approach) like Southwest Airlines.

Strategy and Culture Alignment Matter
Our organizational alignment research found companies that align their culture and talent with their strategy grow revenues 58% faster, are 72% more profitable and outperform unaligned companies in terms of customer retention, leadership and employee engagement.

Your corporate strategy is the path you intend to take to profitably grow your business. But when your approaches to get work done and your workforce are oriented in different directions, there is little chance you will achieve high performance business results.

Four Steps to Take When Strategy and Culture Are at Odds
Here are four steps to take when your strategy and culture are at odds:

1.  Clarify Strategic Goals
You would be surprised to learn how many companies try to change their company culture before they have a clearly defined strategy for success. While we applaud the intentions behind improving corporate culture, we know that a culture must align with and support a clear, believable and implementable strategy if you want it to help move your strategy forward.

2.  Agree Upon Your Current Culture
Too many leadership teams begin culture change by defining their desired culture. While the desired culture is vitally important to articulate, we find it to be more effective to begin with a candid conversation and clear agreement about the state of the current culture.  Until you agree upon where you are, it is difficult to create a path to where you want to be.

3.  Define the Culture You Need to Execute Your Strategy
Once your business strategy is clear and you have a good handle on your current workplace culture, it is time to define the cultural attributes required to best execute your strategy. We like to look at ten cultural dimensions:

  • Market Approach – from adopter to leader
  • Customers – from transactional to intimate
  • Loyalty – from individual to company
  • Focus – from internal to external
  • Risk Tolerance – from low to high
  • Operational Approach – from low to high process variation
  • Decision Making – from centralized to decentralized
  • Information – from fact-based to intuition-based
  • Atmosphere – from social to disciplined
  • Results – from “the how” to “the what”

4.  Prioritize the Critical Few Cultural Changes that Matter Most
When it comes to culture change, we have found that less is more. Trying to make more than one or two major cultural shifts at once is often the recipe for disaster.  Pick the one or two cultural changes that matter most to your strategy and worry about the rest later.

The Bottom Line
When your strategic priorities are supported by the daily behaviors and attitudes of your workforce, everyone pulls in the same direction…toward high growth and success.

To learn more about what to do when your strategy and culture are at odds, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

Comments are closed.

The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
Firmware Engineering Manager

We have worked with LSA Global for our learning and development needs and have always had great success. They helped us recently with customized Management Workshops that we held for the second time. It was fantastic, and I would highly recommend LSA to anyone that is attempting to get immediate and impactful improvements.

Mary Johnston
HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

We recently contacted LSA Global to assist us with a unique training request. We gave LSA a very short deadline and LSA custom designed a training program to meet our exact requirements within the limited time allotted to them. We found their facilitator to be well versed in the subject matter and very credible; the design provided practical and valuable information to our team of managers. I highly recommend LSA Global, particularly in the area of management training.

Julaine K. Souza
Senior Vice President

We engaged LSA to design and deliver a 6-month custom executive coaching program for a group of our key leaders. The focus of the program was to help a core group of senior leaders to leverage previous investments in management training, to ensure the engagement and retention of key employees, and to push critical strategic initiatives forward. Even with the high expectations of our senior people, LSA has completely exceeded our expectations. I would recommend them to anyone looking to create and implement a custom coaching methodology using proven tools to drive true change.

Ivan Fukumoto
Senior HR Manager - Staffing, Training, & Development

LSA has become the gold standard in team building and management training at Genomic Health! I have a hard time finding facilitators that come close to their level of customization, expertise and experience.

Emily Couey
Director of Human Resources

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

I have worked with LSA Global at previous companies and welcomed the opportunity to bring them in to support my new organization. We worked closely with LSA to design a solution for our Client Partner Teams and Management Training on both coasts. LSA designed a customized solution for our business and organizational culture. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner that makes an impact.

Laurie Torres
Chief People Officer

LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!

Bob Ward
Director of HR

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.

Duane Schroeder
Human Resource Manager

LSA’s customized Effective Presentation Skills program has helped me elevate my presentation skills to the next level. I now have a much greater self-awareness of my presentation skills and can leverage off of my strengths while working to improve upon other areas. I would definitely recommend this solution to anyone for whom business presentations are an integral part of their job.

Jim Elliott
Senior Marketing Manager

Samsung

The LSA Global team was very receptive and flexible to our needs every step of the way. Their staff and facilitator demonstrated attention to detail, responsiveness, and professional courtesy. The participants were thrilled with the outcome and rated the communication skills workshop and the facilitator as ‘Excellent’. I’d highly recommend working with the LSA Global team to meet your professional development needs.

John Mastrorilli
FRDP Leader

Intuit

We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.

Anita Luckinbill
Director, Human Resources

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More