Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Ducker
Yes, you can have the best of strategy, but if it is not backed with the right kind of organisational culture that is aligned with the purpose of your organisation, the strategy will not get translated into desired actions and consequently, the desired outcome.
Organisational culture is something which an entrepreneur or an organisation can’t buy or copy from anywhere. A ‘desired culture’ (good culture) has to be developed within and consistently over a period of time. Like we sow the seeds of our choice, one needs to nurture them to grow into the desired plants and trees. Plants and trees that we think will make our environment attractive and contribute to the purpose of our day-to-day life.
The irony of any organisation’s cultural evolution is that even when the entrepreneurs don’t plan for a ‘desired culture’, a ‘default culture’ still evolves through its conduct with internal and external stakeholders (i.e. customers, business partners, employees, financers and communities). Many entrepreneurs struggle during and after their startup phase and some even give up, due to this.
‘Default culture’ (bad culture) does not help these entrepreneurs in putting their organisation on hyper-growth mode despite all other resources available to them. Some common instances of ‘default culture’ are delayed payments and delivery, low people retention, non-reliable services, non-ethical practices, lack of customer care and so on.
No progressive and forward-thinking entrepreneur would undermine the significance of sowing the seeds of the ‘desired culture’, one which is aligned to purpose and not just profits. Culture is what identifies an organisation as unique, both within and outside the sector they operate in (like a person is identified by his/her conduct and personality).
It is never so easy, if not impossible, to shift from ‘default conflicting culture’ to the ‘desired culture’ at a later stage. The efforts and costs for that shift are manifold for any organisation, as compared to those which have already sown the seeds of the ‘desired culture’ from the beginning itself.
‘Desired culture’ of a progressive organisation encompasses the fundamental values and beliefs aligned to the purpose of its existence. Such values and beliefs become the organisation’s culture only when consistently demonstrated by its representatives while dealing with their stakeholders. These fundamental nuggets of organisational culture would ideally be the ones which give them pride in the market they serve. Furthermore, these enable them to attract the best talents available, pave the way to connect with potential customers, help in better negotiations with financers and suppliers, and gain respect among the community they engage with.
You can easily think of many such organisations (e.g. TATA, Infosys, Wipro, etc.) known for their exemplary culture that has been planned and demonstrated consistently over a long period of their journey. Their culture has created an ecosystem aligned with their purpose, which attracts customers, employees or business partners. It is only because everyone in these organizations feels that a rich cultural ethos can bring a lot of value to them as well by simply getting associated with it.
Does your organisation also invest in sowing and nurturing the ‘desired culture’ aligned with its purpose?
(By Kuldeep Pandita, Mentor-people & Organisation Insights, Coach & Business HR Leader)