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Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

Submitted by on October 23, 2010 – 5:48 amOne Comment

Twitter, on occasions, delivers something poetic; extremely brief yet worthy of deep consideration.

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

There, summarized in a jaunty, single sentence is a sentiment I have lived by for the past five years.

Culture is the sina qua non of executing strategy.    Without a ready and aligned culture any strategy will languish.  This is even more pronounced in digital where the shift in customer expectations and technological platforms carry an inherent call for organizations to behave differently in order to get it right.

Digital business – whether ecommerce, marketing, communications, HR, innovation or customer service – privileges that which is open, collaborative and connected.

Why?  Because this is the way of networks where connections and sharing create abundance – the more open the network, the more connections, the more value is created.   Think of Amazon’s open platform to empower thousands of merchants, Google’s connecting of every user click to enhance the search experience of the next user,  Wikipedia’s open (but structured) means of enabling anyone to serve as an editor.   These are all old examples but they are still canonical and relevant.

As we humans progress towards having every communication (voice, TV, video, images, text and so on…) intermediated through the Internet those that abide by the rules of the network will thrive disproportionate to those that don’t.   That was one of the big (and still unlearned among large corporates) lessons of Web 2.0.

Yet the critical insight in all of this is that “Digital” is not an economic reconfiguration as much as it is a social reconfiguration. And the characteristics of networks are also cultural traits – open, connected, always-on and so on.  Each one carries a challenge to organizations that first they must address their value systems and beliefs before getting on the bus and winning in the digital economy.

Strategy is hard stuff – but people are the harder stuff and Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.

Note: I am not clear if @Hasse_Ericksson coined this phrase or is attributing it to @martenmickos in the above citation.

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