Culture vs Strategy

Change is challenging.

The world is seemingly more complex and interdependent than it ever was. The pace of change calls into question old models of thinking about the world in general and the way we organize businesses. Smaller is better, agile is more productive and adaptability is non-negotiable.

As a result we now focus more on how we design organisations and attract and retain talent rather than developing long term strategic plans.

Take customer centricity for instance. Putting customers at the heart of organisational design has become the mantra for companies to remain relevant, survive and continue to thrive.

What is often overlooked is how we implement this change. Stating a vision and aligning it to a strategy is necessary but not sufficient to become customer centric. We need to change our mentality, behaviour and habits. Much like achieving a New Year’s resolution we have to fundamentally change how we act.

Retaining old organisational design habits is also severely limiting. Silo behaviour and protecting one’s empire trumps meeting customer needs and will always prejudice behaviour. The same can be said of poorly aligned KPIs.

More than articulating and even committing to a strategy organisations have to change their culture and redesign the organisation to ensure that the required change in thinking and behaviour sticks. This is a challenge all industries and enterprise sizes have to rise up to.

Culture beats strategy. Or as Peter Drucker allegedly said; culture eats strategy for breakfast. Everyday of the week.

Zaheer Ismail