A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about culture, based on an article by Shawn Parr. I was writing about the points he made regarding how culture needs to be paid attention to and nurtured. The larger context of Shawn’s article though, included the premise that without a vibrant culture, strategy doesn’t matter much.
A couple of weeks later, Bob Frisch responded. Point – counterpoint.
“Ultimately, the culture versus strategy question is a false choice. It’s like asking whether you would rather back a great poker player with weak cards or an average player with great cards. You’re more likely to win when you have both: a great player and great cards. The same goes for culture and strategy. You don’t have to choose. Culture doesn’t eat strategy, and the company that lets culture do so is likely to starve.”
I agree with Mr. Frisch that if you have both culture and strategy you’ve got a winning combination. But I’m not buying the idea that you can still succeed with great strategy without great culture.
Where did the great strategy come from anyway? A corporate culture that encourages innovation, pays attention to ideas generated by its employees, keeps its eyes open to what is happening in the world and is comfortable with responding with something outside of the status quo, is the kind of culture that will generate great strategy on its own.
An organization that didn’t grow its great strategy out of its own culture is really just following somebody else’s vision. And if that happens, does that strategy start becoming more important than your internal culture, to the detriment of your corporate identity and what makes you great?