“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” That’s been a popular saying in Silicon Valley for some time, and it has a certain mystique because it’s attributed to the legendary business guru Peter Drucker. But exactly what does it mean, and could it be true? Could strategy be overrated? And how can culture possibly be so important?
What is strategy?
Before we get further into this discussion, it might be useful to define our terms. As a starting point, Wikipedia informs us that strategy “generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions.” That sounds pretty good, but to further flesh out what strategy is, Ken Favaro, writing in strategy + business, adds this: “Strategy is different from vision, mission, goals, priorities, and plans. It is the result of choices executives make, on where to play and how to win, to maximize long-term value.”
I think that definition is brilliant, but in an effort to ground it a bit, I would add that strategy involves a high-level analysis of the current situation and how it’s expected to change, so that an individual or organization can make the best decisions about how to go forward to achieve specific goals, meet current and future challenges, and leverage present and expected opportunities.