- The Chicken or the egg: Which came first?
- Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
- Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast – Peter Drucker (attributed)
With one of my clients (but certainly not just one) we had just concluded our third Culture Survey over a span of about four years. And the results continued to decline. Every year, the culture results were worse than the previous year and every year the reaction by the leadership was the same “Let’s take the survey again next year. We’re sure the results will improve.” Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
I thought I had my title. But wait, there’s more.
When I suggested that we need to spend some time on the leadership issues that are causing the culture results to drop year-over-year, the answer I received was “We’ll get to that soon but right now we need to dedicate our (precious) leadership time to developing our long-term strategy.” “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast” – Peter Drucker
Once again, I thought I had my title. But wait, there’s still more.
When I pressed the issue that culture work needs to come first, the answer I received “Look, good cultures are the results of good performance. If we get our long-term strategy right and executed we’ll have great financial results and everyone will think the culture is great.” The Chicken or the egg: which came first?
And there’s the third title for this post.
Which does come first? When I first met Dan Denison, he had recently published “Corporate Culture and Organizational Effectiveness.” Since then the Denison Consulting Group has continued to grow and refine their Denison Organizational Culture Survey (DOCS). Recently Forbes Magazine wrote an article about research done a few years ago and published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior. Results from cross-lagged panel analyses (survey speak 😉 indicate that culture “comes first,” consistently predicting subsequent ratings of customer satisfaction and sales.
Culture comes first. Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast. Stop pushing for better results and ignoring the culture.
The purpose of leading a company is to build great teams that allow the best in everyone to rise to the top, grow as leaders and grow other great leaders and to create a culture that inspires innovation, contribution, and drive. Team, Leadership, and Culture. Focusing on results first doesn’t work. Results happen because of great people thriving in great cultures.