In my last blog, we discussed the enormous importance of innovation. For many companies out there, they focus tremendous efforts and resources into trying to be the top innovators and industry leaders. There is nothing wrong with that. But while many of my competitors are regularly talking about innovation, at Comfort Research, we are talking about the relationship between two very important topics—culture and strategy.
You can strategize until the cows come home, but in the end you have to maintain a great culture and connected team if you ever want to get your strategy off the ground. If strategy is the jet, culture is the fuel that makes it go. They are complimentary, and need one another to really make a difference.
Peter Drucker was an American management consultant, educator and Author. His writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundation of the modern business corporation. He was totally ahead of his time. Most of us know his famous quote…”Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
I always used to consider that quote as a mantra of sorts, always guiding how we operated Comfort Research. If you had good strategy then you must have great culture. And if you had a strong culture then you must have a good strategy. That is not the case. There are tons of companies out there that have brilliant strategy but cannot execute it because they created a very sketchy work environment. And there are those companies who operate more like a club, where all they care about is keeping their members happy. What I have found is that they are both necessary focuses for any company.
There is no doubt I am a culture first kind of guy, but what good is a culture without a great strategy to execute? In that case you just aren’t using the resources available to you. Culture and Strategy are of EQUAL importance to any company that really wants to be successful in its industry. You just cannot have one without the other.
As we have grown and evolved as a company, I have seen our strategy change while our core values have remained consistent. In that sense, culture actually helped to drive our strategy. So maybe Drucker was onto something, but not as literal as you’d expect. I have recently come to believe that what I think Peter Drucker meant with his quote is that strategy will change and evolve over time, but if you have a consistent and strong culture that doesn’t change then there will always be a foundationally strong environment to support lasting power.
So now, more than ever, I look at culture and strategy as friends who need one another. Craft a great culture and you can be much more flexible and thoughtful in your strategy. As your industry changes, you are malleable and can transform yourself. It doesn’t take as much time to implement change, and most everyone is on board to do anything and everything you need to turn strategy into action. So, rather than culture eating strategy for breakfast, maybe the two are eating together at the table.