Friday, June 19, 2015

The inextricable Relationship between Strategy, Culture and Execution

A strategy is very important but will only be successful if it is embedded into a company’s culture.

Change is everywhere and it happens every moment in the workplace, but, unfortunately, people rarely recognize that. Business culture is the most critical “soft” key factor to decide business’s success for the long term. But it’s invisible and untouchable. The culture of an organization is comprised of many intricate and interconnected parts, including corporate strategy and related strategic goals, job roles, business processes, core values, communications practices, corporate attitudes and business policies. More specifically, what are the inextricable relationship between strategy, culture and execution?

Culture is about the natural response and behaviors that an organization demonstrates:
A strategy map that strikes a chord with the majority of people with high influence in an organization can influence culture. Add a layer to your strategy map describes the behaviors that are valued and encouraged, and that is critical to enabling the intent of the strategy, and you make it easier for people to understand how they can change or contribute. You might kick the map up another notch by adding a layer describing the capabilities that can be shed; the ones that the organization needs to build, and the ones that the organization needs to preserve to be capable of executing the strategy. These two layers take the "capture of hearts" to the "leverage of heads and hands" without the requirement for complex projects and process. "Doing" the bottom layers enables the upper layers.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast: Today companies work more on the execution, and many said business is 30% planning and 70% execution. But culture is really the leader. A great culture can support a weak strategy, but a weak culture cannot support a great strategy. Culture is one of the main factors that affect implementation of strategies. While successful strategy should also take account culture into enterprise even around the enterprise. Strategy is driven by culture, for culture is the framework in which strategy is held for effect benefit and growth. Planning is generating ideas and finalizing the idea and shaping up the idea, then execution comes into the picture. Both are equally important and focused. But the first focus should be on the foundation which is strategic planning, and then the pillar of strategy execution such as culture can directly make an impact on how effective the execution would be, as many of us like Drucker’s quote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Execution is the next step of idea practitioning. It is all about: Plan - Do - Check -Act. The execution also should be emphasized but on the later stage. Execution is perhaps more challenging, but planning is more critical, if it fails, the organization will go towards the wrong direction. And culture is like an “invisible hand,” which can either make execution go smoothly or fail it.

Culture of innovation is the key to the long-term success and thriving of a company. Societal culture is that the tribes and peoples keep their “thoughts and behaviors” alive through oral histories. So does in a company. And innovation is the only way to leapfrog a business and push the human world forward. The culture of innovation is the foundation to make an evolutionary or revolutionary change either in a business scope, or a societal environment. Ideas help in innovation, innovation helps in creating product and market (market can come first or product can come first), planning gives a roadmap for execution also shows clear warnings where can the problem come, and then the business practitioners execute and go-getters market, and market gives feedback, and feedback helps in generating ideas. Taking the ideas to their logical conclusion, all of these happen with strong culture foundation.

A strategy is very important but will only be successful if it is embedded into a company’s culture and if the culture is designed to implement the strategy successfully. Conclusion: a company must have a strategy that is focused on serving its markets segments with the defined services, and a strategy to mold the needed culture accordingly; while culture is certainly part of the environment in which an organization operates, it represents the 'box' in which actions and decisions occur. Culture can be changed, just like breakdown the older box and shape the new box in order for organizations to reach the new horizons.


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