Culture and strategy
In the strategic literature the need to develop a strategy that requires the foundations of a culture that is compatible with the intended strategy is widely recognized. However, what is less widely understood is what happens when you have to fast track both cultural and strategic change when the strategy and its desired outcomes are both incompatible with the culture of the organization. How should managers deal with these challenges? How should such cultural appreciations be brought in to the discussion to develop and implement the business strategy?
Cultural change is strategic change
It is important to understand cultural change as also involving ...view middle of the document...
This dilemma is magnified when a public sector organization is forced to face up to wider market forces and requires to design and implement a commercial strategy aimed at securing the economic survival of the organization. This process involves moving away from the identity of a council department to that of a business trading in an open market. The change in strategy and the change in culture have to occur simultaneously. If the commercial strategy has a three year time frame then the change in culture requires a three year time frame with an additional year for preparation and consultation with all the key stakeholders frame also.
Part of the change process for the case organization involved developing a commercial strategy to move into more profitable markets and to change the operating culture of the organization from that of a public sector mentality to that of a commercial orientation. In the case organization “strategy work” was mainly emergent with a loose composition of formal strategic goals. For the organizational leadership to avoid strategic drift it required to understand the strategic position of the organization from an organizational cultural perspective. The leadership then needed to communicate this strategic position as a case for cultural change if the organization was to evolve as a commercial enterprise and to
Cultural analysis and strategic planning
One way to assess the strategic position of an organization from an organizational cultural perspective would be, with the aid of cultural theme analysis to determine the cultural themes that would be incompatible with the new strategy and which therefore may impede its chances of success. This diagnostic process is also useful investigate what changes would be required of key stakeholders regarding their internalized perception that strategy is politically imposed to the new view that their market focus and independent thinking can craft strategy. In the case organization as with many organizations, political and cultural processes can obstruct thorough analysis and formal rational thinking and impede the rigid application of formal change strategy. The organizational culture of the case organization and that of its wider business environment (the council and central national government) unquestionably influences strategic thinking. The political view of cultural change is critical here as the case organization has powerful factions, divisional leaders, middle managers and political masters with conflicting political agendas. Filtering out what is important i.e. culturally strategic and what is not, is an issue for the case organization. This filtering process will involve dialogue across divisional silos and the draining of the defensive moats.
To change, or to manage corporate culture, means that one has to be able to define and therefore pin point exactly what it is one is trying to change. Cultural change by its very nature is rather nebulous. If the...