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"Culture eats strategy for breakfast!" - So how can you grow a high-performance culture?

Those famous words by Peter Drucker, the consultant widely regarded as the father of modern management thinking, have been proved true again and again. Just think of how many change initiatives founder because they run counter to an organisation's culture. This example of a failed digital initiative is all too common:

There are many definitions of organisational culture, but in short it can be thought of as the sum of the formal and informal vision, values, expectations and behaviours that inform how an organisation's people behave, i.e., it is the sum of the traits that makes the organisation what it is.

Every organisation has a its own culture, the question is whether or not it is a healthy one that will promote success. A common error in trying to create a healthy culture is for leadership to simply try to mandate what the culture will be, makes some changes and assume the task is complete. In reality, cultural change is a process that takes time to be truly embedded. If not done properly, resistance to change will resurface and the initiative will fail. Declaring success too early is one of the 8 key reasons for change failure noted by Kotter in his excellent '8-Step Change Process'.

Does it really matter? Yes! According to James L. Heskett, culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors” ( In summary, cultural excellence is not a 'nice to have' for businesses: it offers powerful and tangible business benefits.

So how can an organisation promote a high-performance culture? This excellent article by Gallup identifies 5 key drivers: They are:

  1. Leadership and Communication

  2. Values and Rituals

  3. Work Teams and Structures

  4. Human Capital (developing people)

  5. Performance (building relationships)

In addition to the central role of effective leadership noted above, the article highlights the importance of trust and its link to employee engagement. Gallup have also produced a helpful guide to getting the most out of your culture which can be downloaded from here:

In summary, the invisible elements of culture have a massive effect on business performance, especially in times of major disruption when rapid and deep changes are required.

Aspire MCL specialises in helping leaders and their teams unleash their potential to create high-performance, winning businesses. Get in touch tday and let us help you build a winning culture to achieve your goals with confidence.

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