Culture - Strategy - Action
All of these are inter-related and it is important to understand their relationship.
Culture Eat Strategy for Breakfast
Everybody wants to be successful. Each of us who start a venture or join an organisation or pursue a cause; we want to see success. What does success mean? In most organisation whatever is seen as a success; results in progress, esteem, greater opportunities and more income.
Since each organisation has its metrics of success, it all comes back to who defines it. Every organisation has a success story. The success story talks about how the organisation came to be what it is. For some, it was because the founders saw opportunities where none other saw any. For some, it is the large accounts that the company/founders were able to bring in. And for others still, it is the story of making the customer happy no matter what the costs were. The narrative of how success was found differ for different organisations.
Culture helps define these metrics of success.
Whether or not you specify this in your HR policies, it becomes the things that team members aspire for. It is the way success gets defined in an organisation.
Bill Gates sold an Operating System that he had not even made - to IBM. He spent the next 2 months coding the OS that he had promised. This is part of the lore of Microsoft. If you look at the success of the company in the past and its rejuvenation today it has always been a company that sells to other enterprises. Even though the mobile shift passed the company by, they could do little because the internal culture was not to focus on consumers.
One of the biggest misunderstandings is that culture leads to success. The truth is - Success leads to culture. Success creates the narrative which creates the culture. Great organisations control this narrative very well. Their stories are powerful and alter how their employees see them.
This phrase ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ was first mentioned by Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape and now a successful venture capitalist. You cannot hire a new CEO and expect them to make a strategy presentation which will change the direction of the company. It has to begin by changing culture which is the product of changing the success story within the company.
Think narrative before you think strategy.
Action eats policy for lunch
Often time, companies also feel the need to change the way things are operating within. If a behaviour has to be altered, policies are put in place to act otherwise. How the leadership acts and the actions that are taken matter far more than a hundred-page policy that any consulting team can put together to explain how things should be.
Action is seen, it is felt and is far more real to the people within an organisation that reams of policies. Action is now, its consequences are also now. There is nothing more powerful than that.
When startups grow and founders want discipline, most often they will put together 10s of pages of policies and expect things to change overnight. Act on it. Live it yourselves everyday first before expecting others to follow the same. Action will speak louder than any document would.
Figure out the narrative within the organisation and act. This will solve most of the issues within the organisation.