Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE strategy, but over many years of consulting clients and running our strategy firm, I have noticed there is a lot to understand when it comes to an organization’s culture. It really is what determines which organizations rise to the top and which ones simply survive or go under.

Peter Drucker first coined the phrase, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and it has remained as relevant today as it was when he first said it. This thought is definitely worth the effort of understanding the main reasons why it is so true. There are many, but here are three.

Reason #1: Perhaps most importantly it’s because culture inspires people to do their best, and that’s not something a well thought through strategy can ever do. Just because a company has a terrific strategy that works is not enough to make everyone get up in the morning and be excited to go to work. But a well-established culture that gives the positives everyone craves, such as self-respect, trust and encouragement is very powerful indeed.

Reason #2: Another dimension that culture brings is it can provide you and your organization with the strength to get through some very tough times. People always gravitate to places that they feel they have a good chance to succeed or where they believe their organization will ultimately excel. The reverse is also true. Good people avoid bad places and they use an organization’s culture to determine its quality.

Reason #3: The third factor has to do with what is endearing and energizing. A strong vibrant culture is quite effective and efficient in how it gets things done. People enjoy working as a team, and they don’t resist each other’s ideas when they hear a good one. Actually, a good culture that has been nurtured over a long period of time rewards the unexpected and provides praise regardless of who brings the idea. Simply having the best idea is idea enough, versus the type of doggie-eat-dog culture that fuels so many corporations today.

Tom Marin is the managing partner of and provides corporate and brand strategy to organizations of all sizes. He has an extensive background in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and media industries. Marin is an accredited member of the national and international chapters of the Business Marketing Assn., is a (CBC) certified business communicator and a past marketing chair of the Chicago chapter.

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