Why It Won’t Work (Unless You Do This First)

During a break in a strategy meeting, I asked a senior director about a plan we’d just voted on. “Do we have the culture to allow this to succeed?”

We both shook our heads. No, we didn’t. We had the vision and the “perfect” plan, but our culture would not allow further action.

Ever wonder why your company’s near miss reporting, forklift training, cell-phone policy, professional development, and self-serve coffee bar fail to function as designed?

Peter Drucker said it best: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

One of the best models I’ve found for culture and its influences is in “The First 90 Days” by Michael D. Watkins. In Figure 6-1, Watkins gives the four elements of organizational architecture: Strategic direction, Structure, Core Processing, and Skill Bases. All change, cultural or otherwise, comes from modifications of these four elements. Watkins gives practical examples of each, as well as common types of misalignments.

Before your new project, program, goal, or study, look for these misalignments. If one exists, focus on the architecture before tackling culture head-on.

Do you see a disconnect in culture and strategy within your organization? What could you do to better align the two?


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