My Three Cents

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Legendary management guru Peter Drucker is said to have originated the saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” however, it seems that no one has actually found proof that he wrote or said it, according to author and former Wall Street Journal journalist George Anders. Regardless of the saying’s origin, evidence abounds that workplace culture is one of the most critical elements of business success:

  • Two out of every three corporate mergers fail due to cultural issues, according to research published by the Society for Human Resources Management.
  • Many established companies have been pre-empted by “digital disruption” from agile and smaller competitors, hampered by culture issues that stand in the way of change and innovation – a theme of countless management books.
  • And, 84% of executives believe culture is critical to their companies’ business success, with 60% characterizing culture as more important than strategy or their operating model, according to a 2014 study by Booz & Company (now PwC).

What do employees themselves have to say about it? According to research recently published in McKinsey Quarterly by a professor at Georgetown University –based on interviews with tens of thousands of employees all over the world — more and more companies are experiencing increased challenges with corporate culture. As the workplace has become faster-paced, more technologically complex, and culturally diverse, more organizations are falling short in nurturing a culture in which each person feels he or she is being treated with respect and courtesy – no matter the level of the individual. The costs of this are high: if the culture isn’t working, you can forget implementing the strategies you have planned.

Importantly, the research found that civility – respect and courtesy in working relationships – not only makes the workplace more pleasant to be in – it significantly enhances individual contributions, information sharing, team building and firm performance. I am very proud that our organization has prioritized culture as one of our key goals to foster professional happiness and growth!

So, I repeat: Don’t underestimate the power of culture in your organization.


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