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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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

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

I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

Tracy Esposito
Director, HR Business Partner

In my years working with LSA, it seems like I’ve had a personal consultant at my fingertips to help me identify just the right solution to satisfy our needs. The entire LSA team has become a trusted friend of Actel — assuring we provide state-of-the-art learning to meet our complex, high-tech business and people needs.

Linda Mitchell
Training Manager

PalmSource has found our relationship with LSA extremely beneficial. We worked closely with LSA to customize the right Management Training Program solution to meet our unique business needs. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner.

Ken Boehm
Vice President of Human Resources

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

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

LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.

Ken Boehm
VP of Human Resources

LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

Judith Onton
Vice President Human Resources

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

I highly recommend LSA Global to anyone who is looking to improve individual or organizational effectiveness through their top quality programs and broad range of expertise.

Greg Pappas
VP of Human Resources

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

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

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

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