How to align business strategy with organisational culture

Posted On: 13 September 2017

How to align business strategy with organisational culture

It's one thing to say you work hard and play hard, but do you stick to that promise when it comes to the strategic crunch? If you can't align your business culture with your strategic execution, you may as well not have developed a culture in the first place.

Here's how you can develop a business strategy and still maintain the positive company culture you've so carefully developed:


Read more: 'Organisational Culture to Enhance Productivity and Profit'


Align leadership

From CEOs to team managers, the leaders in your business are essential to your business strategy—they help create it and execute it day-to-day. Yet, no matter how good a leader is at strategic planning, if they are not onboard with your organisational culture, they are going to struggle to attract, inspire and motivate the staff who will carry out said strategy.

“Is doesn’t matter how good your strategy is, unless you have a culture that is willing to implement and execute that strategy, it won’t work,” says Dan Gawn, a business strategist and high performance leadership coach at Advisory.Works.

“On the flipside, if you have an organisation with a high level of culture, they will buy-in and support a strategy plan and execution.”


Get a lay of the land

Do a bit of navel gazing to assess your culture and your strategy together. Do they match? Will your organisational culture allow your business strategy to succeed? If a company founded on teamwork and collaboration adopts a new strategy that emphasises individual performance, the culture of that organisation is going to change. Or if you have a desire to implement a strategy around innovation, but any new idea is killed off before it can be considered, it’s not going to fly.

In short, a strategy should serve to inspire your culture, not kill it. And your culture should enable your strategy.

“A corporation’s strategy that ignores, or only pays lip service to culture, will be the beneficiary of the toxic environment they deserve,” says says Mike Myatt, author of Hacking Leadership.


Set clear, measurable goals

The only way to know if a strategy is working is to set up ways to measure it. In previous blogs we’ve talked about the importance of Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG). However, these tend to be long-term goals that require years, if not decades, to come to fruition.

With a task so big that it sometimes seems impossible, it’s best to start with small, achievable goals that can serve to focus your staff and keep them from getting overwhelmed.

To set up short-term goals, plan backwards from your BHAG and determine what steps you will need to take to get there. As many CEOs can attest, this is easier said than done, but it’s well worth it.

Read more: How to set profitable business goals


Communicate your strategy to your staff

You may have a great strategy up your sleeves, but it’s worth nothing if your staff don’t know about it. Communicate your strategy across all levels of your organisation and explain what the goals of the business are. That way both your leadership team and your staff are on the same page, working to the same goals.

“Communication needs to be layered, with maximum use of storytelling to highlight people who have done great things, lived core values or delivered on the core purpose. It makes it personal and connects people to it. It makes it real,” says Greg Allnutt, a business strategist and high performance leadership coach at Advisory.Works.

Communicate your successes (and failures), in achieving your goals. Encourage your staff to comment or vote on your strategy too—and if they offer good ideas, don’t be afraid to incorporate them.

The saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast” has been around for a while, but it’s technically not correct. It should never be a case of organisational culture versus business strategy; one should not exclude the other. Both are vital to business success, and when they’re aligned they make for a powerhouse duo that will grow your company well into the future.


Ready to build a great organisational culture? Download our free ebook, 'Organisational Culture to Enhance Productivity and Profit'.

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Topics: Company Culture