Oh, yes and culture eats strategy for lunch and then dinner. Then it eats business plans and execution for dessert.

Culture eats strategy for lunch. "It's the way we do things around here."

Culture eats strategy for lunch. “It’s the way we do things around here.”

It is imperative for every business owner and business manager to clearly understand what exactly the phrase means, “culture eats strategy for lunch.” And then, understand the huge effect culture has on ROI, growth, sales, marketing, customers, projects, and success.
Why does it seem like the brakes are on when you want to go forward?

First, fun facts from Gallup and NAICS

This information is from the 2018 Gallup “State of the workplace.”

  • 33% of workers, on average in US workplaces, are engaged at work.  Ouch!  And this is more than twice the engaged workers than European companies.
  • Companies with upwards of 70% worker engagement earn 21% more profits than those with low engagement.
  • Focusing on strengths brings out engagement.

And on top of that, did you know that a whopping 77% of US companies are under $500K in revenue and 82% of companies are under $1 million in revenue?  (Latest NAICS statistics).
And one more set of information from Entreprenuer.com that defines business success factors.

Business success factors include the drive for impact in the market, commitment to stay the course, willingness to adjust as necessary, patience, persistence, willingness to listen, develop mentoring relationship, and strong leadership in both general and domain expertise.

A Big Question to Tackle

Do you plan to build an extraordinary business for customers, partners, employees, yourself?
If you want to build something extraordinary, increase employee engagement, increase profits, then all this information points to develop leadership skills in yourself and in employees. And it means to develop a strong culture.
So, instead of a situation where culture eats strategy for lunch, embed culture development into your strategy.

What Exactly is Culture?

In its simplest terms, culture is “The way we do things around here.”

Decision making under stress

“Doesn’t matter if it’s right, that’s now how we do it here!”

The behaviors, reactions, decision patterns, attitudes, beliefs form the factors that drive the way you run your business, project, team. These factors will overwhelm strategy and cause culture to eat strategy and spit it out.
“Cultures can be described in terms of the values they (organizations) endorse or promote.”  ( A Rose by Any Name? The Values Construct.  Meg J. Rohan)
And, “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.” –Investopedia
What this means is that people endorse and promote certain behaviors. Some behaviors help produce improvement while other behaviors can override new strategy for the company in a heartbeat. These behaviors are deeply entrenched with “guardians” who watch to insure cultural codes are followed—the good and the bad behaviors.
These guarded and watched over bad behaviors (codes) will stall out the best strategy before you even spell “strategy.”  Everyone will nod in agreement then do what the culture behavior codes dictate. Often, people don’t realize it happens. Breaking cultural codes means severe punishment sometimes subtly enforced and sometimes not so subtle.

Warning Signs your Culture costs you Big

Consider these three warning signs that bad behaviors in your culture costs you.

3 fingersThe first and most impactful warning signs that most likely your culture eats strategy for lunch is the “Rule of Three.” If you suffer from the same mistakes three times or more then the repeated mistake indicates an upstream cultural issue.  Upstream cultural issues deeply embed themselves in the way ” we do things around here.”

The second warning sign is lack of decision making, prioritization and time management skills. All related back to decision making.

The third is grumbling in the background. This most likely comes from inconsistencies between what you want and the culturally enforced behaviors, which often comes from the same person.

These three warning signs result in lost engagement, lost productivity, less profits, more costs, more indecision, more wasted time on the job and host of other ills. It makes you feel like the brakes are on while trying to accelerate.

What to do about it

It really is simple in theory to stop the fact that culture eats strategy for lunch.

Know yourself well. Know your company culture well. Understand and accept your strengths, talents, weaknesses and blind spots of you and your company. Fill in the missing skills as fast as possible. Build a shared vision, establish consistent values, and establish great teamwork. This becomes the strategy.

However, it can be hard to put into practice. Cultural behaviors and personal behaviors become guarded and enforce the old behavior patterns. In this case, the group doesn’t produce the results you want and expect.

So … What now?

Decide to change, take the long view, start a program, get outside help, be patient.
I specialize in guiding people through the transitions of behavioral changes. I use structured training, assessments, accountability, and practice sessions oriented to where you are today. Then move you along in the journey at faster pace than you can do yourself.
Drop me a message if you want to explore this approach for you and your team. It is worth it.

Contact Phil Bride today

phil@PhilBride.com or 503-753-9971.
Let’s do a professional assessment to get you clear on your strengths, talents, weaknesses and blind spots. The foundational step.
This is perfect for business owners, business managers, executives, those who want to improve their organization’s culture or their own personal approach,  and those who want to learn more .