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Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast? PART 3 of 4

A four part series on some of the major factors that can either feed or starve your strategic direction.

Don’t get stuck in the weeds! Beware the navel-gazing! Avoid the great bog of minutiae! This is the kind of advice every leader has heard at least once, and for the most part, it is really good advice. It’s hard to lead if you are always looking at the ground. But every once in a while, take the time to review your processes and structures to ensure they are serving your strategic direction.

A group of corporate staff members meeting at a table to discuss and plan strategy with a specific process in mind
The Strategic Side of Process - Organizational Behaviour

These are the ways and means by which your organization goes about its work. They are also the “rules of engagement”. Your structures, processes and practices are the foundation, walls, windows, doors, and roof in which your organizational culture resides.

It is generally during a period of transformation that the role these things play becomes most obvious but they are always exerting influence in the background. Silently, almost imperceptibly, it is your processes, practices and structures that will either allow your organization to move forward or hold it back from achieving goals.

Consider the organization that embraces a new mandate. Once the new course is accepted, the strategic plan is set, the goals are well articulated; the communication materials are carefully developed and distributed. But that organization did not realign its Board of Directors’ membership or their terms of reference. Their staff team formations remained untouched. Nothing changed when it came to employee performance metrics or what was celebrated as success. When it comes time to re-evaluate your progress against your strategic planning objectives, and you find that little has changed, sometimes that is because the supposedly “little things” never changed.

While you were forging bolding forward, everything about your organization’s day in, day out structures, practices, and processes are dedicated to preserving status quo.

Then there are the leaders who take another path altogether. This leader will “blow up”, disrupt or abandon all existing structures, processes and practices, in the interests of “shaking things up” and severing ties with the status quo. A little shake-up is always good for getting things moving, but destroying the foundations of how people work together, without considering what will take its place, has its consequences too. Leaders who take this path will likely notice that some of their team will become endlessly dedicated to seeking the safety and stability to be found in creating new processes, structures and practices, while others use the chaos to fly “under the radar” of performance.

Creating a Hybrid workplace. Case in point: “the devil’s in the details”.

There is a lot of discussion happening around the globe right now about the impact of the pandemic on our workplaces, including but not limited to the creating of a hybrid work culture. It is perhaps one of the most visible and evolving manifestations of the role processes, structures and practices can and do play in the workplace. It represents the opportunity for leaders to pay closer attention to what has traditionally been exclusively delegated to the direct reports. For those leaders who dedicate at least part of their attention to how their organizations manage work, reward performance, collaborate, share and create value – the rewards will be there.

For more on this topic, I encourage you to read the story of Google’s Aristotle Project.

If I can help you with your strategic planning or if you would like to explore working together, please be in touch!


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