Culture Trumps Strategy
I wanted to share the following work I wrote in 2018 while I was still serving in the military. It is a break from my usual fiction writing, and I wanted to give something back to you all. The below I know is useful for entrepreneurs, the military, small businesses, or even corporate leaders. I hope you find it useful. I would love to hear your feedback.
I recently had the pleasure of being approached by one of my former NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers). For those of you not savvy about military positions, a junior NCO is the first real management style position in the military, and the backbone of the military. They lead, train, and execute orders while keeping the rest of the junior soldiers disciplined. I digress, he came to me asking about wanting to change how the unit improves its fitness overall. He had expressed wanting to change how the unit saw fitness and wanted to bring it to the forefront.
He was expressing a frustration not over strategy, (which for this would be how to get someone in shape), but over culture. I began to explain that he was doing the strategy perfectly, but there was a culture change that was needed, and it was needed among the 'managers' (NCOs for this). If they change the culture, the culture of the overall unit would change.
It was coincidental that I came across an article from HCA Healthcare shortly after:
What Is Organizational Culture?
Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations. These shared values have a strong influence on the behavior of people in the organization and dictate how they dress, act, perform their jobs, and carry out the strategy. Culture is consistent, observable patterns of behavior in organizations. Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do.
Reasons Why Culture Trumps Strategy:
Employees are loyal to culture, not strategy
Culture provides resilience in tough times
Culture creates competitive differentiation
Your culture, not your strategy, is your brand
Cultural miscues are more damaging than strategic ones
Strategies can be copied, but culture cannot be copied
Culture is who you are, strategy is what you do
As you can see from the above excerpt, strategies will change. In this instance, to his question, how to better change someone's fitness will change. Science and athletes with find better more effective and efficient ways to do that. But for this, the unit's culture needs to change so that the 'employees' want to adopt that loyalty to fitness and competitive nature.