Culture and strategy

It was hard to resist the allure of Eaon’s post, the route to everything. He starts off with the Japanese idea of Kyo-chi-gyo-i. In this Kyo is Goal. Chi is Wisdom. Gyo is Action. I is the result.

He then offers a different translation for business: Purpose>Insight>Strategy>Results and says a lot goes wrong when the achievement of results loses sight of purpose. I pretty much agree; the question of why we’re doing this is easily avoided.

This leads Eaon to this article in Fast Company by Shawn Parr: Don’t let the culture vultures scuttle your strategy. It’s a fairly passionate rendition of the idea that culture eats strategy for breakfast. I suspect most people dealing with organisations find they are easily disconnected from their purpose and the reality on the ground is frequently at odds with the glossy brochures.

I’m sitting here trying to put my finger on what is about this that makes me uncomfortable. It might be Parr’s division of strategy as rational and culture as emotional as I don’t think in the real world we can so easily separate these aspects of ourselves. When I also see a subhead about the importance of visionary leaders I worry a little bit more. Is Parr saying you need a visionary leader who can set a beautifully rational strategy and then makes sure the culture supports it? If so, I would resist that kind of idealism. I’m not sure we can truly separate strategy from culture in that way, except in our heads.

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