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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Four Quick Fixes to Prevent Culture From Sabotaging Your Strategy

By Caleb Powers, Vice President of Sales at Palladium Group, Inc.

Over the years, Palladium has helped many organizations better align their culture and strategy to achieve the financial and social results they’re striving for. Used wisely, intangible assets such as culture provide a powerful competitive advantage, particularly in the new world of the impact economy. Increasingly, organizations must formulate strategies and implement solutions that deliver enduring social and economic benefit. In this blog post, we share the four most common culture-bound mistakes made by organiaations when it comes to strategy execution and how to fix them.

Pushing a strategy that conflicts with your culture

One of the most common mistakes that organizations make is trying to launch strategic projects that don’t align with their culture. First, be honest about what constitutes your true company culture—not what’s slapped on the wall in a poster, but how people behave every day. If your culture must change in order to implement strategy successfully, gather the leadership team to share a united message to your organization.
For example, your organization may have always focused on financial goals, but for the first time you’re looking at how you can deliver positive impact: the intentional creation and measurement of enduring social and economic value. In today’s impact economy, consumers are increasingly demanding this change, and encouraging your employees to consciously think about the company’s strategy and culture is a powerful way to inspire change.

Treating culture as an HR problem

The most fundamental resource for an impact-focused organization is its people. While culture can be managed and even transformed, it shouldn’t be treated as a “check-the-box” exercise. Often leadership will inform HR of a new change management framework and walk away. While it’s important to pursue culture in partnership with HR, all other areas in the organization should be on board to guarantee that new business principles are absorbed into the operational and social personality of an organization—ensuring culture is managed alongside strategy.
Culture is more than the culmination of your organization’s values—it’s the way individuals behave and interact, and it deserves just as much attention as your strategy.

Building a risky strategy for a risk-averse organization

How willing is your company to take risks? Understanding tolerance for risk is critical to executing your strategy effectively. When leadership teams in risk-averse organizations roll-out a drastically different vision for the future, it can be demotivating—and terrifying—for employees.

Assess your organization’s appetite for risk. Are the risks worth taking? If so, create a communications plan that presents an urgent reason why the organization should change. For people to take up a new challenge, they need to understand the potential impacts and upsides involved.

A lack of employee empowerment

When you execute your strategy, it’s important to consider your teams’ ability to make decisions and drive change. In many cases, executives may find it hard to let go, even if they’ve assigned a project manager for strategic initiatives. Individuals and project teams need to be clear about their responsibilities and decision-making abilities.

Final thoughts

Taking the first step to intentionally manage your culture alongside your strategy can be difficult, but it will lead to better results and happier employees. If you want a strategy that improves your economic and social performance, you have to be serious about changing behaviors—often those embedded deep in your culture. Getting people to change is hard, but not impossible. As the world moves rapidly into the impact economy, it will be those companies driving innovative change with their culture and strategy who will be most successful.

For more information about our strategy execution services please email Caleb Powers ( or visit our strategy capabilities page.

1 comment:

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