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Be intentional about the culture you desire

Organisations can let their cultures emerge and drift or they can be very intentional and deliberate about how they form and shape them. In a low growth economy it’s more important than ever to develop and engrain a high performance culture.

Boards, CEOs and leadership teams should be able to clearly articulate the nature of the culture that will be essential if they are to execute their strategy successfully and whether that culture will lead to their organisation achieving sustainable high performance.

Many senior executives spend many months and often considerable expense in developing and articulating their organisation’s strategy. And so they should. Their strategy will provide clear answers to the following questions:

  • What are the main ways your organisation provides more value to its customers than its competitors?
  • What are your organisation’s core competencies and how do you plan to leverage those?
  • Why will your organisation be more profitable or more productive than its competitors or peers?
  • How will your organisation differentiate itself from its competitors?
  • How will your organisation sustain its advantage over time?

A bad culture will destroy a good strategy

But there’s an old saying, “a bad culture will destroy a great strategy every time“. So why don’t those same executives spend the time, effort and expense thinking about and articulating the sort of culture that they desire and that will be essential for the successful execution of their strategy? Many executives need to spend more time determining what part of their organisation’s culture will enable and turbo charge their strategy and just as importantly, what elements of their culture are likely to inhibit or act as a hand brake on the execution of their strategy. Once they’ve taken the time and effort to determine the cultural enablers and inhibitors of their strategy, they will be well placed to develop and put in place a program of cultural change.

Many executives are good at developing plans for a new production line or office building, as the inputs can be seen and touched and the process lends itself to structured and logical sequential thinking. Many find it much more difficult to deal with cultural change as it is far less tangible and relies more on intuition, the heart and emotions.

Shape your culture

Culture is often described as “the way things are done around here”. Culture can emerge and just drift along or it can be created, formed and shaped by a board, CEO and leadership team that is deliberate about engraining important values and behaviours into the fabric and DNA of their organisation. But it shouldn’t just be any values that are engrained into your organisation’s culture. Nor should organisations try to embed dozens of different values, as employees will become confused with what is important. Ideally, the board, CEO and leadership team, with the support of their employees, will think long and hard about the small number of values (e.g., between three and six) that are absolutely essential for the organisation’s vision to be realised and its strategy to be executed successfully.

Values and the related behaviours take a lot of organisational energy, effort, focus and time to embed into an organisation’s culture – are you embedding the right values in your culture? Will those values enable or inhibit your success? Your culture can be a real differentiator – is yours? While strategies can be copied, it’s almost impossible to duplicate another company’s culture.

Insync has helped many organisations develop and embed cultures that both enable and turbo charge their strategy and lead to sustainable high performance.

For more information, contact Nicholas Barnett, Executive Chairman

Further reading

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