‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ – Do you agree?

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    This is a famous quote by the academic Peter Drucker, who was trying to highlight the sheer power of a unified and focussed company culture.

    Personally I think this is a very strong statement that in most cases is true. Where strong culture exists, positive or negative, it will have a singularly powerful effect on the performance of any organisation. This is even true when a small number of employees are the main drivers behind a culture (again, either positive or negative).

    I would like to know if you agree, and if so, what examples you can provide of strong culture defining the success of an organisation, either for good or for bad!



    An interesting quote to ponder. I do not entirely agree. I certainly think that culture can support and enhance strategy. However, can culture truly sabotage strategy? A company’s culture can vary widely across the organization. For example, what is the impact on overall strategy in a company that has an overly aggressive sales culture that has a hard time retaining talent, but has an R&D department that fosters a creative, collaborative culture that produces innovative, high-demand products? Similarly, if a company’s executive leadership team has a positive culture, but lower levels of the organization have a negative culture, does that “eat” the company’s strategy? What if it is reversed and executive leadership has a negative culture, but other levels are quite positive – does that impact overall strategy differently? I’d love to read examples of companies with culture asymmetry and how it impacted overall strategy.


    Working with several people has taught me that culture is the secret sauce that keeps staff motivated. Indeed, I just heard a fabulous quotation that stated, “People do not only leave firms or executives… they leave corporate cultures.”

    Mike Truong

    I completely agree that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. It doesn’t matter how great your strategy is, if you don’t have the people or governance to execute, it is just words on a page. Strategy is only a good idea until it can be executed, which requires the people of the organization to bring to life. The people need to be given the organizational support to make it successful, whether it’s through formal resources, delegated authority, or informal leadership sponsorship. It’s well known that large bureaucracies slow, if not effectively neuter, execution, and that is a direct result of culture (and too many layers hindering speed of execution).

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