Monday, October 3, 2011

Aligning Culture and Strategy - Part #2

In the From Vision to Action booklet called Developing A New Organizational Culture (, I explained that there are four main characteristics to a successful organizational culture. They are as follows:

- All are involved in building something, namely taking a vision or BHAG, i.e.Big Hairy Audacious Goal, and making it become real rather than abstract.

- All have a core philosophy about how things are done and what is most important.

- All have an internal drive for progress and are constantly seeking new ways to improve.

- All have and monitor systems to preserve the core philosophy and stimulate progress within the organization.

With this in mind, there are three key ways this fall to better align culture and strategy. First, while this may sound simplistic, it is critical to teach people what is the difference between strategy and tactics. Then, instruct them on what is culture. If they can not understand these concepts, then they will not grasp the concept of alignment between strategy and culture.

Second, help all involved recognize that alignment is based on clarity about the following three questions: Why? How? What? As Simon Sinek reminds us, “People do not buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” When answering these three simple but powerful questions, we need to reread John Kotter’s book, The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations, Harvard Business School Press, 2002. As he writes, “The single most important message in this book is very simple. People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings. The flow of see-feel-change is more powerful than that of analysis-think-change.”

Third, we as leaders need to proactively role model and make decisions with alignment in mind. Joel Kurtzman in his book, Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve The Extraordinary, Jossey-Bass 2010, reminds us that people watch their leaders in a microscopic detail. Furthermore, individuals working within a firm tend to copy their leaders’ style. The hard part for us to accept is that others copy our worst characteristics along with our best traits. Therefore, we as leaders must be disciplined to make certain that we exhibit only the types of behavior that we want others in the company to share.

This week, discuss with your team what is unique about your organization’s culture and it’s strategy, and continue exploring the subject of alignment. As Tony Hsieh in his book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Business Plus, 2010, writes “For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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