Thursday, March 01, 2012

the route to everything

I learned a little Japanese phrase some time ago. It was described to me as a simple process by which to achieve anything in life or business or whatever.

Kyo-chi-gyo-i. The route to everything.

Kyo is Goal. Chi is Wisdom. Gyo is Action. I is the resulting status.

In business terms Purpose>Insight>Strategy>Results

Starting with the 'why' rather than the 'what' or 'how'.

This, of course, highlights the most common mistake in 'strategy'. Confusing one's 'Kyo' with one's 'I'.

Confusing the objectives with the outcomes.

Confusing the 'being' and 'doing'.

A roundabout way of coming to todays topic of the relationship between culture and strategy, and a fantastic article by Shaun Carr of innovation consultants Bulldog Drummond in Fast Company.

Excerpt: 'Step inside of any company, no matter the size, stage of development, or level of success, and the culture is either driving the strategy or undermining it. To exist in the first place, a company must have a clear purpose, a deliberate intent, and a directive or set of ideas that it uses to pursue a clear goal, but it's the people who have to execute it. There is abundant evidence in every industry that the best-laid plans (or strategies) are derailed, suffocated, or eaten by cultures that either don't understand or straight-out reject the intent. And this, in turn, slows, sucks the life out of, or sabotages the implementation or execution of the company's strategy.'

The full article can be found at fastcompany.com, but for those of a dot point persuasion Carr has also summarised his ten key points in handy list form.

1. Strategy drives focus and direction while culture is the emotional, organic habitat in which a company's strategy lives or dies.
2. Strategy is just the headline on the company's story--culture needs a clearly understood common language to embrace and tell the story that includes mission, vision, values, and clear expectations.
3. Strategy is about intent and ingenuity and culture determines and measures desire, engagement, and execution.
4. Strategy lays down the rules for playing the game, and culture fuels the spirit for how the game will be played.
5. Strategy is imperative for differentiation but a vibrant culture delivers the strategic advantage.
6. Culture is built or eroded every day. How you climb the hill and whether it's painful, fun, positive, or negative defines the journey.
7. When culture embraces strategy, execution is scalable, repeatable, and sustainable.
8. Culture is a clear competitive advantage.
9. Culture must be monitored to understand the health and engagement of your organization.
10. Strategy and culture both require the clarity and power of brand to bring them seamlessly together.

Culture is either driving the strategy or undermining it, but either way the culture still comes first. I'm not sure it eats strategy for breakfast but it's ahead in the canteen queue.

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