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"Culture eats strategy for breakfast!"

Nom nom nom.
Chewy this brekkie.
Is it pork?
No, it’s strategy.
Yummy, strategy!

But why is culture so hungry for strategy at the crack of dawn?

What’s wrong with lunchies or din din?


Strategy is your Full English Breakfast and that’s that.

Oh Mr. Peter Drucker what have you done now

Actually hold on! 🤔

It looks like Peter may not be the coiner of this aphorism.

According to
this answer on Quora.

And I concur with Mr. Anders (who BTW is one of our contributors this week): 
“It's better to be approximately right than precisely wrong” - yessir!

So let’s break this meal down into chewie chunks:

Strategy = the action plan to hit a chosen target.

Your company culture = the sum of all behaviours, customs, ideas and how those things are valued in your business.*

*I think this is far more true than saying:

Your company culture is solely defined by your values. 

With all good intentions of aspiring to a certain behaviour, if your team is not behaving that way, your culture has a different value set to the one you are longing for.

**On that note, I highly recommend you read this company culture gem:

What You Do, Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz.

So if culture eats strategy, then that implies there is a scenario where culture exists in absence of strategy.

But can you really have a company culture without a strategy?

No, not really.

If a company has no strategy, it would probably be very hard for it to exist.

That can be as simple as:
We produce bottled water and sell those to thirsty people.

That’s a strategy.

And as long as a group of people get together to produce those bottles and sell them, you’ll have some form of culture with a loose strategy.

Yes yes, I hear ya!

Dan, you’re taking things too literal again.

Perhaps what it’s really saying is that you can have a strategy in place, but if you don’t have the right culture required to achieve the end goal of that strategy, success is as unobtainable as The One Ring.

I would say it’s good to have a vision.

Important to have a mission.

And most important to have a strategy.

It’s that strategy that will inform the ideas, customs, behaviours and ranking of values that will ultimately impact what your culture is like.

So culture and strategy cannot be mutually exclusive.

To me this aphorism is a little bullshitty.

But, as always this is not about forcing my steamy soup down your throat.

Let’s hear it from our contributors this week…

What this week's contributors think of this aphorism?

George Anders
Senior editor-at-large @ LinkedIn

"It's an especially useful caution for outsiders with a big change agenda"

Read more

Emma Simkiss
Managing Director @ Freestyle

"They must eat breakfast together"

Read more

Josh Akapo
Co-founder @ archtype

"It’s often hypocritical"

Read more

Mike Maynard
CEO @ Napier B2B

"Clearly it's good advice, but not as simple"

Read more

Nikki Gatenby
Non-Executive Director & Coach @ Superengaged

"Business was created by humans, not the other way around"

Read more

By Daniel de la Cruz
Chief Learner @ Polymensa

My reflections on "culture eats strategy for breakfast"

Sticking to my guns here:
I don't think culture eats strategy for breakfast, because I don't think the two can be mutually exclusive.

No business can exist without a strategy.
No business can exist without a culture.

Is one more important than the other?

If the plan is to grow your agency, then no.

That’s like asking:
Is a striker more important than a goalkeeper to win the FIFA World Cup?

Did one come before the other?

Yeah, culture probably came first. Before you started your agency, the culture that shaped you as a human being, also inspired your vision to make a change of some sort. This led to your strategy to offer the services your agency provides.

I do, however, really like George's point:
As a new employee in a company, trying to push through a strategy without considering the existing culture will be very hard. If attention to detail is part of the company culture and the new employee constantly makes spelling mistakes in their strategy presentations, they will struggle to get people to back them.

Also can you just take a minute to appreciate the clarity in Nikki's definition of a vision:
"A vivid, imaginative view of how the world will look once your purpose has been largely realised."


Thank you for taking the time today to read our Polynut newsletter. Any comments, ideas or questions - feel free to reach out.

And a HUGE THANK YOU to our contributors for giving up their time to share their wisdom with us!

Oh also before I forget, I promised a shout out to Robbie Handley for sharing his perspective that it's probably breakfast because it's the first meal of the day - thank you Robbie.

See ya next week!

Cheers ✌️

There are 188…
188 times you’ve been told the oven is hot - yet you still burn your hands.

What I mean is our own subjective social reality.
My what??
Your biases.
And there are 188 of them apparently.

Oooooh tell me more…

Peak down the rabbit hole