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Culture as a Strategy Enabler

While some companies are driven by strategy, others—similarly to BRANDi—are driven by culture. Is one way better than the other, or do they actually go hand-in-hand? To answer these questions, let's first dive into the distinction between the two.


To put it simply, a strategy defines the "what" and "where." It provides a clear direction for the business and outlines how the company can go about achieving its goals. On the other hand, culture indicates the "way" of doing things and shapes how employees respond to the said strategy. To many, running a business and having a strategy go in tandem; between strategy and culture, the former is arguably more tangible and easier to comprehend. For this reason, many companies may be inclined to focus their efforts on formulating and executing their strategy as a priority. As a result, they neglect the importance of fostering a culture that prepares employees for it. Professor Peter Drucker, a famous management consultant and NYU professor, once said that "culture eats strategy for breakfast." This suggests that regardless of how effective a plan is, culture outweighs it; if culture and strategy do not align, success will never happen.


So how does one go about fostering a strong and effective culture? It begins with a vision and mission—establishing an organization's identity and purpose for others to understand. In general, vision is concise and easy to comprehend, and values dictate the actions and attitudes of the personnel. If employees share the same values, they are more likely to unite, creating a GREAT impact that meets the firm's vision.

During Microsoft's shift from Windows software to cloud computing, Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, faced not only this already difficult change, but also the challenge of transforming the organizational culture to drive it. By promoting a "learn-it-all" culture, as opposed to the previous "know-it-all" worldview, Microsoft employees' curiosity and development are spurred. Nadella's efforts created Microsoft Azure—now one of the leading cloud providers in the world today. In 2021, 67% of executives prioritized culture on the company's agenda, compared to 53% in 2013. Additionally, a study from MIT shows that companies with a GREAT culture are 80% more likely to experience increased employee satisfaction and 89% more likely to experience increased customer satisfaction. These examples just go to show how significant the role of culture plays in the workplace.

Ultimately, no matter how sound the strategy is, it will not be successful without an effective culture that encourages people to implement it. This is why a GREAT culture is the fundamental enabler of strategy, especially in today’s era, where the world is bound to face many disruptions.


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