Culture Rules Strategy

RedZone_StrategicWhy do so many strategic plans fail to materialize into success stories? Why are they so difficult to implement? Quite often the root of the problem is a lack of alignment with firm culture and strategy.

The success of a strategic initiative necessitates that the leadership transform and adapt the firm’s culture to be in alignment with its strategy. A cultural transformation shift starts at the top since culture normally emanates from the founders and leaders of an organization.
Changing a firm’s culture is extremely challenging given that it’s shaped and molded over numerous years of interaction between the partners and staff. Consequently, a high percentage of personnel in the firm will avoid changing their behaviors until the leadership in the firm become role models for behavioral change.

Before leaders undertake changing the firm’s culture, it’s essential to determine what type of cultural alignment is necessary to achieve the desired strategic results. For example, we observe many growth strategies that have failed due to obstacles in leveraging and delegating work to lower level staff when the partners are at full capacity resulting in neither the time nor the motivation for partner marketing and practice development activities. The best growth strategies and plans will be trumped by this type of top-heavy work controlled culture. A “not letting go” type of culture can be caused by a lack of trust in subordinates or a perfectionist mindset culture by the partners, in either case, culture wins.

In this example, a growth plan will only be achieved when the partners decide that their current culture needs to change to an environment of pushing down work to the lowest levels possible. In the same way, new growth initiatives may need to be modified to adapt to the pace of cultural change. In this instance, hiring a lead generator may be a more viable approach to new business contacts until the modification to a delegation culture takes place.

Adapting and aligning culture to strategy will enable the firm to be successful in the future.
Modifying and adapting the leadership style of the firm while adapting and changing the culture will provide the best chance for implementing strategy. Quite often cultural obstacles are in place prior to developing the strategy and are ignored in terms of the plan implementation process and actual execution. Culture is a significant factor in a firm’s long-term success—people and culture always make the difference between success, mediocrity, and failure. Without cultural alignment, the best strategic plans will never be successfully executed and more often than not, culture will trump strategy.