Put culture at the heart of its strategy

 It is usually only when culture has to be changed that one remembers that the company is also a cultural system. And again, it is most often a simple line at the bottom of a page in strategic projects: "Impact on culture and behavior change".

However, Peter Drucker warned us: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast! »Putting culture at the heart of strategy means understanding it less as an object of change than as the main resource of the company. But how to do it ?

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The 4 components of a strategic project

The strategic project makes it possible to define the purpose of the company and to formalize its goal. It provides some answers to the question of meaning in the double meaning of the term: the direction to take on the one hand, the meaning, that is to say the answer to the why, on the other hand.

A successful way to formalize your strategic plan is to break it down into four parts: the company's vision, mission, values ​​and ambitions (for more information, see my post onWriting A Business Plan What Makes A Good One)

eate shared intelligibility

The definition of the strategic project is not only an analytical exercise. It is also an excellent opportunity to create a shared intelligibility between the stakeholders of the company who, depending on their position and their intention, naturally have a different vision of the strategic project.

In a complex world, there is no absolute truth (see my post on the difference between complicated and complex). There is therefore no reason for everyone to perceive the strategic project in the same way. The latter is not an exogenous and transcendent datum, but a social construct.

The values ​​"on" the walls and the values ​​"in" the walls

To put culture at the heart of the strategy, the values ​​aspect of the strategic project must be largely revisited compared to the way in which it is traditionally approached. We will then distinguish the declared values ​​(on the walls) and the practiced values ​​(in the walls).

These are made up of two categories: the positive ones, at the heart of the company's distinctive skills, and the negative ones, which hinder the deployment of the strategic project (see my post on these two categories of values).

What approach?

It is about starting by identifying the positive values ​​practiced, those that the company wants to reaffirm and around which it will pivot to deploy its strategy. This then makes it possible to work on the mission, the vision and, finally, the ambitions.

The time has therefore come to identify the new values, that is to say those which are not part of the corporate culture, but which the latter needs to implement its mission and, above all, achieve his ambitions and strive for his vision.

Finally, we will identify the negative values ​​practiced, those which will constitute obstacles to the implementation of the strategic project. It will be necessary to claim their opposite (trust for mistrust, transparency for opacity, transversality for partitioning, etc.) so as to promote and accelerate their development.


A collaborative device

Shared intelligibility is then built around the following questions:

  • What are we used for? (mission)

  • What are our intentions? Where do we want to go? (vision and ambitions)

  • What can we build on? (positive practiced values)

  • What obstacles will we have to overcome? (negative practiced values)

This work must be done, not just among members of the management team as too often, but with as many people as possible within the company. Technologies, digital in particular, now make it quite easy to carry out this work in a collaborative manner.

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