Culture is viewed as the organizational values and beliefs that guide an organization’s attitudes and behaviors. Strategy is the framework for pursuing your vision and business goals. So why the need for alignment? Simply put, organizational culture drives performance—so in essence, what you do is proof of what you believe. When companies’ values and beliefs redirect efforts in a manner contrary to its performance objectives, strategies fail. In contrast, high performing organizations maintain a healthy culture that promotes the types of behaviors that support business strategy.
Strategies are often focused on one of three angles: the customer, the product/service, or on operations. While much more goes into a strategy than what’s mentioned above, these three categories broadly define where an organization’s strategy seeks to provide value. Some want the customer experience to be world-class, and others determine their winning strategy is in producing the best cup of coffee. Yet, other organizations win by being a little less expensive than the competition. There are no wrong strategies—just ineffective ones!
At HigherEchelon, we work with both public and private sector organizations to understand the link between culture and strategy to optimize organizational performance. Often times strategies are not effective because they lack the ecosystem, or culture, to drive the required behaviors. Companies that want world class products on the cutting edge of technology might require innovative behavior. If the organizational culture does not support innovation, the misalignment can severely inhibit success.
HE practitioners help align culture and strategy by working with leaders to assess the current organizational culture and determine if it adequately supports the strategy. At HigherEchelon, our approach is to invest in leadership and human performance. Our process focuses on the leader as the focal point for establishing the values which drive behavior, and ultimately, business results. We align culture and strategy to get results by:
- Identifying the value-focus of the strategy: customer, product/service, operations
- Identifying the types of behaviors needed to support the strategy
- Implement leader training programs to reinforce the values and beliefs required for optimal performance