Strategy versus Culture Debate – Which Comes First?

Strategy versus Culture Debate

Strategy Versus Culture – Which Comes First?
Is the strategy versus culture debate relevant?  Most of our clients have a high growth strategy to grow revenues and profits quickly before their market shifts. But unless leaders are careful, they risk sacrificing the corporate culture that helped you succeed up until now.

Do You Have to Make A Choice?
Do you have to make a choice between your corporate strategy and your corporate culture in the strategy versus culture debate? The short answer is no.  Both strategy and culture are critical to your overall success.  The timing however matters a great deal.

The Importance of Strategy – 31% of the Difference
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

The Importance of Culture – 40% of the Difference
We define culture as the way things get done on a day-to-day basis.  Our organizational alignment research found that workplace culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performance.

Getting Aligned – Strategy Must Go Through Culture and People
The key is organizational alignment. When your workplace culture and your business strategy are at odds (often in the pursuit of high growth), you are headed for trouble.

It is your business strategy (the what) that provides the true north to ruthlessly prioritize investments and to make tough decisions.  It is your corporate culture (the how) that guides your business practices and keeps behaviors, beliefs and assumptions on the right path to execute your strategy in a way that makes sense.

Without Organizational Alignment
If your business strategy is unclear, unbelievable or too difficult to implement for your marketplace or corporate culture, it is almost impossible to create an aligned and high performance culture.  So, while we also believe that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” you cannot create an aligned and high performance culture without first developing a clear and compelling strategy.

Strategy Comes First
So, from our perspective, Strategic Clarity almost always comes first – before cultural change.  Why?  Because you need to know where you are headed to provide the context for “How” you will get there.

But, once your strategy is clear, believable and implementable enough, you must take the time to purposefully align your corporate culture to your specific strategy for it to have a chance to succeed.

What Happens When Strategy and Culture are Unaligned?
The pressure to grow without a healthy and aligned culture can lead companies astray. Just look at Wells Fargo. The leadership seemed to emphasize growth at all costs.  Between 2011 and 2015 employees who were feeling the pressure opened over 1.5 million deposit accounts and 565,000 credit-card accounts that may not have been authorized.

Some customers were charged fees on accounts they didn’t know they had. The focus on growth without true alignment with a culture of integrity led to unprecedented fraud in the banking industry.

The Risks of Misaligned Strategy and Culture
In addition to the recent culture horror stories at Wells Fargo, Uber and VW, if you lose the “great place to work” culture that got you started on the path to success, you will begin to lose your top talent, experience a decline in employee engagement, and be less attractive to the “A” players you need to succeed.

It is very much worth it to ensure that your culture remains healthy and positive. Otherwise you will lose the competitive edge required to grow.

Strategy and Culture Starts at the Top
While we recommend actively involving the entire organization in the strategy and culture design and alignment process, your leaders are the ones who must fully commit to the desired strategy and culture.  Then they must “live” it in both their actions and words. The Board, the CEO, the senior managers…all have to buy into and model the strategic direction, behaviors and values of a high performing organization.

Then every employee needs to understand what is expected and that they will be held accountable…as will every leader.

The Bottom Line
When your corporate values and behaviors are aligned with a clear and compelling strategy, your employees are set up to think and act as one.  This creates true alignment and the pathway to high growth.

To learn more about the strategy versus culture debate and how to create an aligned and high performance culture, download 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

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LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

We consider LSA our true business partner in the areas of Learning and Organizational Development. From Strategic Planning to Presentation Skills and Management Training, they continue to provide excellent value and extremely high quality solutions – not just one time events. I recommend them to anyone looking to drive true business results.

Michelle A. Mitchell
Vice President, Worldwide 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

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

LSA helped to meet the needs of my teams within a very narrow timeframe. My team walked away with highly useful management tools and practices. LSA saved us time in delivering the right solution for our specific needs.

Sandeep Kumar
Director, Software Engineering, EPG

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

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.

 

Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

What a refreshing change from the half-baked psycho-babble you normally get from training and consulting organizations. LSA gives you the practical and results-oriented assistance you need to define and reach your goal.  They provide a results driven plan – not just a temporary fix. They are great to work with, and even more importantly, they “get it!”

David Fiano
Vice President Human Resources

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

The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

Debra Martucci
Vice President, Information Technology

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

What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.

Jeff Rangel
Director of HR

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

Each program is preceded by an assessment of the participants. The course is then designed to fit the specific parameters and needs of the group. The highly interactive delivery is provided by recognized experts in their fields. On the spot coaching is provided during the program and each participant receives individual follow-up after the course. Courses can be delivered in-person or virtually. Given the nature of Cisco’s business and the way we operate, these remote workshops are a must for anyone who joins our company. Their work is eye opening. Great content and fantastic delivery.

Frank J. Kuypers
Business Development Manager

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