Culture Trumps Strategy
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Increasingly, an organization’s culture is more important than its strategy. At some level, this was always the case.  However, today it is considerably more vital.  Companies need a culture that is innovative, embraces diversity, moves quickly, and attracts the best talent – and keeps it.  The company culture is what its people increasing pay attention to.  Leaders need to understand this and focus on it.  People are more influenced by what happens in the organization than what the stated strategy is for the organization.  Actions speak much louder than words.

Leaders need to ask themselves how they are influencing the culture of the organization. Are they helping it become what it needs to be to excel and succeed today?  How do their actions influence others so they can be creative, passionate, and committed to producing great products or delivering outstanding services?  These are all culture questions at the core of successful businesses today.

Recently, I have had a series of unprompted conversations about how organizations are doing.  Inevitably, they always turn to how healthy the organization’s culture is.  Almost never is the discussion focused on if they have the right strategy.  Strategy is certainly important. But, it is a foundation that is needed to just be in business. Culture, on the other hand, defines if the organization is thriving.  A great culture in a difficult business market will thrive while a company with a great strategy in a booming market that lacks a great culture can struggle.  This seeming disparity is at the heart of my observation of why culture is so important.

Companies that are over 100 years old that have a great culture thrive.  Brand new companies with wonderful cultures do also.  Companies where this culture is nurtured and celebrated are beloved by the employees.  People want to go to work and see their mission as meaningful and life-giving.  There is an excitement and joy – people actually smile and embrace the challenges before them.  As I meet with people in these culture-rich workplaces, I can actually feel how alive and vibrant they are.  You can see great effort and sustainable outcomes.  It’s so encouraging! Does your workplace feel like this? What could be changed so it does?

Leaders, and team members, who daily build an outstanding culture are setting the stage for on-going success.  A thriving culture produces enthusiasm, results, and the retention of the best talent.  My advice – work on company culture daily.  You will be rewarded handsomely!