Neville Hobson published a good summary of an article from the HBR this morning on the subject of accelerating culture change within organisations. A point raised in the article, and highlighted by Neville, was that “There must be a clear connection between the target culture and the overarching strategy of the company.” when you are looking to change organisational DNA.

Initially it struck me as somewhat bizarre that that fact needed to be stressed so much. But then I realised that my experience tells me that so much of business management focuses on the “hard” stuff (that’s hard as in tangible, documentable – organisational structures, systems and processes and strategy) and then hopes that the soft stuff (the people, the culture, the skills and the styles of leadership) come along in the right direction if you shout at them enough.

Success comes when all of these planets align. What I wonder is if you want to achieve success through transformation in business, might one be better to make sure that you change your strategy to align with the culture that prevails, rather than setting out to change both strategy and culture?

Whilst cultural change within an organisation is not impossible, it’s way easier to realign the “hard” stuff in light of the soft stuff to get complete alignment. If your organisational culture is way out of whack from where you need to be to set a new strategic direction, maybe it’s time to start thinking that the organisation’s time is actually up (or to get some new strategists)?

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