Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch & Dinner!

Guest
post from Fardad Fateri:
 
There are thousands of business books and many of them are
excellent so we knew from the outset writing yet another business book would
get little to no attention. But we were passionate about our topic and we
believed we had a great story to tell, a story that was grounded in academic
research, a story that was lived by thousands of people over a ten year period
and not formulated in an office at a university. We had a story that was
anchored in research and tested in real life in an organization we led…that
made our story unique. 
 
Our book, “A Culture Of Discipline:The Art, Discipline, and Practice of Breakthrough Leadership” is the outcome of
ten years of practice and experimentation on two key theories developed by
two world renowned researchers: Peter Drucker and Igor Ansoff.
 
Igor Ansoff  is known
as the father of strategic management. He is most known for the concept of
environmental turbulence; the contingent strategic success paradigm, a concept
that has been validated by numerous research studies; and real-time strategic
management. Peter Drucker invented the concept known as management by
objectives and self-control. He has been described by peers as “the
founder of modern management”.
Drucker believed organizational culture is the most powerful force in
ensuring organization success and his phrase, “culture eats strategy for
breakfast” is now used globally to demonstrate the power of organizational
culture. 
 
Our curiosity about culture and strategy led to a few
questions. What is the relationship between corporate culture and strategy?
What is the importance of strategy versus the importance of culture in driving
success in an organization? Do culture and strategy play different roles in the
development of an organization at different times of an organization’s
lifecycle? 
 
Strategy, at its most fundamental level, is rational,
intuitive, logical, clear and simple. Every member of an organization should
understand it and talk about. Without a simple, well-delineated strategy, a
company will get lost. Organizational culture, on the other hand, is complex,
dynamic, emotional, ever-changing, and fluid. Culture by its very nature is
alive, diverse, people-focused, not easily quantifiable, and changes with the
addition of any new member. Culture is an incredibly powerful influence in a
company’s long-term success. No matter how fantastic a strategy really is, when
compared against values and human beings, people always make the difference. No
one will ever contest the notion that ultimately people are the true separators
in any organization. Hence, we also believed the only way to win consistently,
we had to focus mostly on values and organizational culture.
 
To test our belief that culture does indeed trump strategy,
approximately ten years ago, we deliberately created a culture in our
organization that actively promotes and encourages accountability, humility,
vulnerability, fun, grit, ownership, empowerment, vigor, excellence, hard work,
family, competitiveness, integrity, quality, honesty, superior customer
experience and other values that together create the making of a great
organizational culture. Our strategy was similar to many other organizations
within the same space.  Our belief,
however, was that our separator would be our culture as we knew with our
culture we could execute relentlessly and produce peak performance.
Organizational culture had made all the difference. Our
culture has allowed us to grow dramatically with quality and integrity—more
than many similar organizations in the same economic sector—and to survive
periods of turbulence and extreme difficulty. Because of our culture, we’re
able to continuously learn, reinvent ourselves and to improve. While many of
our competitors were shutting down, declaring bankruptcy, and dismantling, we
continued to persist.
 
We knew we were perfectly imperfect. Though we face
challenges, mistakes, and problems, we continue to learn, evolve, and improve
every single day. Because of our culture, we share the same values and we
operate as one organization committed to core values, to our thesis, and most
importantly, to our customers.
Our conclusion was and still remains that culture does
indeed eat strategy for lunch and dinner!
Fardad
Fateri
is CEO
of International Education Corporation, one of the largest private
postsecondary career education systems in North America. Dr. Fateri writes
& speaks frequently on organizational culture & career education. He
completed his education at University of California, and Harvard University. He
is the author of  “ACulture Of Discipline: The Art, Discipline, and Practice of BreakthroughLeadership”.