Strategy or culture—which is more important? “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a phrase originated by Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields, former CEO at Ford. Any firm separating culture and strategy is putting itself at risk. Where are your firm leaders spending their time thinking? Typically, firm leaders spend more time on strategies to increase revenue and the bottom line than on culture.
Today, firm leaders spend a lot of time on business and digital transformation. Strategy, capabilities and culture need to be designed together and aligned. Firms have choices to make regarding strategy, capabilities and leadership. Questions like, “Where are we going to play in the market?”, “How are we going to win and differentiate?”, “What capabilities need to be in place to execute?” and “What are the leadership attributes to enable differentiation and execution?” need answers.
Firm leaders also need to examine continuously and improve culture in the same process. This does not mean the values of the company need to change. In the context of the updated vision, strategy, business model and branding, what capabilities are required to enable and drive success? What got you to your current level of success probably isn’t adequate to get you to the next level. These capabilities have a positive impact on the client and employee experiences. Some of the most critical capabilities are:
- data analytics;
- hybrid workforce;
- Marketing and sales;
- Packaging and pricing;
- Processes and workflows;
- Project management;
- Relevant business model;
- talent development;
- Technology (moving from shortcuts to applications to platforms); and,
- Virtual and physical facilities.
This does not mean you must change firm values. It does mean changes are required in the context of the strategy, business model and brand positioning. What capabilities are needed, and what are the critical few cultural capabilities necessary to enable and drive success? Choose your top three from the above list and get started today. Don’t procrastinate because you don’t currently have the capabilities or answers. Good things happen when you are in motion.
The attributes you used in the past to select partners may impact whether you pay a tax (increased time and investment) or receive a dividend (less time and investment). This is what Stephen MR Covey refers to as “The Speed of Trust.” These attributes have changed over the past 20 years and will continue to evolve. The most often-mentioned lament about an underperforming partner is that they were made a partner because the firm was afraid they would leave. Don’t get caught in this trap again, especially with the current talent shortage.
This list is not meant to be all-inclusive but rather a thinking tool to inspire and guide you in establishing your firm’s attributes:
- Vision: Gets and promotes the firm’s vision.
- Big thinker: Focuses on growth and continuous improvement.
- Builds unique-ability teams.
- Life-long learner: Reads and grows consistently.
- Edge: Can make a yes/no decision.
- Focus: Ability to focus on the “big rocks.”
- Not afraid of risk.
- Focuses on client dangers, opportunities and strengths.
- Delegates: Leverages firm resources.
- Willing to make personal sacrifice.
- Trust: Gives and receives trust.
- Recognizes failure is a learning experience.
- Avoids procrastination.
- Positive motivator.
- Shares the credit/takes responsibility.
- Value sales and marketing.
- Understands and drives the firm’s economic engine.
- Holds self and others accountable.
Firm culture is not an “HR thing.” It is hard to get culture right, as it is a constantly moving target. It grows and evolves and results from action, reaction, and every interaction. Culture requires strategy, and strategy requires culture.