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Culture is the key to Growth and Development

Leg­endary man­age­ment and not for prof­it con­sul­tant Peter Druck­er quipped that “Cul­ture eats strat­e­gy for lunch”. Druck­er didn’t mean that strat­e­gy was unim­por­tant. What he under­stood was that a plan, even the most ele­gant was real­ly com­pro­mised if there was no effec­tive cul­ture to imple­ment it. He recog­nised that an empow­er­ing cul­ture was the surest route to sus­tain­able organ­i­sa­tion­al health and success.

So, to be clear what is meant by cul­ture anyway?

Cul­ture is the car­ri­er of mean­ing. It is the sum of val­ues and the inter­nal­ly agreed ‘ways of doing things’ which serve as ‘glue’ to inte­grate the organ­i­sa­tion. It lies out­side coer­cive, direc­tive or imposed pol­i­cy. Cul­tures effec­tive­ness is the result of a set of shared assump­tions that guide behaviours.

A long-term cul­ture that sets the scene for growth and devel­op­ment is defined by trust, cel­e­brates inno­va­tion and ini­tia­tive, dri­ves out fear, bestows dig­ni­ty. A cul­ture where suc­cess is cel­e­brat­ed, and fail­ures hon­est­ly exam­ined. One that hon­ours his­to­ry, recounts impor­tant his­to­ry and sto­ries,  and expects account­abil­i­ty and respon­si­bil­i­ty. In a strong and vibrant cul­ture, these val­ues are evi­dent, tan­gi­ble and lived.

Why is cul­ture foun­da­tion­al to strategy?

  • It is inter­nalised and not dictated.
  • A cul­ture can trans­form employ­ees into advo­cates (or critics)
  • A strong organ­i­sa­tion­al cul­ture helps you keep your best people
  • A dynam­ic cul­ture trans­forms staff into a team
  • Cul­ture impacts on per­for­mance and employ­ee well­be­ing. It is com­mon sense that there will be less absenteeism
  • A well-devel­oped cul­ture brings a strik­ing­ly increased open­ness to change and the desire of employ­ees to make changes work.
  • As the cul­ture devel­ops and peo­ple take full respon­si­bil­i­ty for what hap­pens in their work areas, prob­lems are solved where they hap­pen and by those affect­ed. This frees man­age­ment from the old polic­ing and mon­i­tor­ing style of leadership.
  • Less con­flict, high­er reten­tion, greater inno­va­tion and com­mit­ment to strate­gic goals means bet­ter finan­cial outcomes.

A pos­i­tive cul­ture is reflect­ed and led by lead­er­ship.  It is the lead­er­ship that must  ‘walk the talk’ and imple­ment actions and pol­i­cy that enhance a pos­i­tive cul­ture. Build­ing a cul­ture takes longer than writ­ing a strate­gic plan. It is an ongo­ing atten­tive process.  With­out a pos­i­tive cul­ture, the imple­men­ta­tion and suc­cess of any Strate­gic Plan is com­pro­mised or even doubt­ful. Cul­ture is the key to Growth and Development

Steve Tollestrup
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