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Does culture really eat strategy for breakfast?

By Emile Studham, 22nd April 2019

At Performance by Design, our definition of culture is simply “the behaviors that you accept and reward“.

Many definitions of culture include a set of beliefs in their definition.
This is extremely relevant as our belief systems are what trigger our actions.

In our workshops with teams, we often refer to speed through adversity as being one of the top 3 determinants to corporate success.

The ability to stay in dialogue, whether harmonious or conflicting, with a genuine focus on making things better is crucial.

There is a singular commonality in all high performing teams. The ability to engage in open, honest and constructive conversations about performance, with any other member of the team, irrespective of their position on the team.

This is different to arguing.

Arguing is when one person is trying to convince someone else that they are correct. And often their own bias gets in the way of what is better for the team.

Arguing can be healthy if both team members in the argument are focused on performance improvement.
That’s why we prefer to refer to refer to it as conflict of opinion over arguing when having this discussion with people and clients.

It always comes back to the need for a defined purpose, values and behaviours. We refer to this as a team’s culture code.

Part of a team’s code is the purpose or their “WHY”. The why of the team is the very foundation of the team’s culture code. You can’t have an effective strategy without an effective culture.

People believing in the team’s purpose (WHY), are in alignment with the team’s values and are prepared to behave in a way that has them recognized as their values, so they can deliver on their why.

Peter Drucker was famously quoted as saying: “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”.

You can have the best strategy in the world, but if it is not in alignment with what you stand for from a culture perspective (and remember culture being the behaviors you accept and reward), then all you have is an idea.