“ Culture eats strategy for breakfast ”. This sentence was pronounced by Peter Drucker, a famous Austrian economist and essayist, naturalized from the United States.
Did he mean that culture was more important than strategy, comparing two of the most relevant intangible assets for the success of a company?
Whatever the goal, the result was – once again – to reopen the long-standing debate: between culture and strategy, what is the road to success?
Let’s try to clarify.
Corporate culture: a competitive advantage for 82% of global managers
Corporate culture is one of the most important and discussed business topics of the moment: according to the Global Human Capital Trends 2016 analysis conducted by Deloitte, 82% of the managers interviewed recognized the corporate culture a concrete competitive advantage.
The reason? Corporate culture guides behavior, ’innovation, defines the Company’s level of service and establishes its positioning.
Corporate culture is above all a matter of business and not just a matter of human resources. A key element capable of determining the success or failure of a business and firmly supporting it especially during periods of change: mergers, acquisitions, growth moments or critical phases need a secure track and shared to go. A clearly cultural track.
Are culture and strategy really two opposing elements?
Once the objectives of a company have been defined, strategy and culture take the field.
The first defines the actions to be taken e plans activities to achieve the Company’s goals.
Once the way has been mapped, culture determines the way the strategy is executed, including a set of values, behaviors, choices and beliefs that are useful to guide the resources launched towards the goal.
It is therefore intuitive how strategy and culture must be firmly aligned to enable virtuous, healthy and successful management.
Let’s take the case of Southwest Airlines, the largest low-cost airline in the world which, like Mission, is committed to making a flight accessible to everyone. A US company founded in 1967, which has made its corporate culture a true killer application, capable of generating an extraordinary reputation and guaranteeing 45 consecutive years of profitability.
A corporate culture that requires a warrior spirit, the heart of a servant and a positive approach from its employees. The target? Return customers more than what they spent to fly.
All this, however, without impacting on costs: low cost, for Southwest Airlines, is not is only a strategic issue (the way forward to achieve the Mission ), but also a theme of culture (the way to execute the strategy). It is precisely starting from the employees and their behavior, in fact, that the company’s values come to life and are transformed into a visible service to customers. For this reason, only those with a simple and thrifty attitude will be able to join the highly praised team of the airline, obtaining a job. A highly desirable professional destination, considering that this transport company boasts a very low voluntary turnover, which in 2016 was even less than 2%.
Strategy and culture aligned and always connected.
Strategy and culture, together, placed at the center of corporate decisions, directly promoted by top management and shared at all levels.