You’ve heard the saying – “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast”. This is meant to infer that the culture of the company will far exceed in value compared to the strategy of a company. I believe this to be true, however what many companies, startups especially, often overlook (or undervalue) the need to have a firm strategy in place.
How will we generate sales? How do we fill up our prospect pipeline? Do we have a healthy book-to-bill ratio? What does our five-year plan look like and how will we execute on it? These are just a few of the many questions that successful businesses utilize strategic thinking to find the answers to.
I’m not trying to de-value the importance of a great company culture – without it companies will likely not retain their best people. Nor am I stating that it’s purely academic to build a great culture – it’s not. Building a great culture is incredibly difficult and needs strong leadership. What I am saying however is that companies cannot rely on culture alone to bring them success.
Often times, companies will focus on culture in lieu of strategy. This can be a very dangerous path to go down as culture will not guide your organization through tougher times. Once there are significant economic shifts like we are seeing today (drop in oil prices, a change in government), successful companies fall back on their strategic plans to guide them through rockier times while the culture-only companies experience much harsher consequences such as layoffs or closing the doors.
It has been debated many times which is more important – Culture or Strategy. I suggest that the answer is both. A great culture is intentionally manufactured, rarely does it happen organically. You can’t execute a strategy without a great culture and you can’t develop a great culture without strategy.