Culture Trumps Strategy

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I want to talk to you about something today that is more important than strategy. Now I am a big fan of strategy. Whether you're a business owner; a marketplace leader; if you lead a nonprofit; if you're a pastor; if you run a school; if you have a shop or boutique, you need strategy. You really need strategy in every area of your life, but when we think about leadership, strategy is what’s going to get you from point A to point B faster than anything else because a good strategy will help you overcome obstacles. A good strategy will help you bust through barriers. A good strategy will help you navigate opportunities, and I'm all for strategy. You need to spend time developing strategy, and you need to spend time developing strategy with others on your team.

But for the sake of this talk, I want to talk about something that trumps strategy. It’s more important than strategy, and it is culture. Can you say culture? Stop what you are doing right now, and say culture. Your culture trumps the strategy of your organization. Now what is culture? If you look up the word culture in the dictionary, you Google it, you read what people have to say about it, and you will come up with a thousand and a half different definitions.

I love how Sam Chand defines strategy, and he says, “strategy is the way we do things around here.” He answers that question. This is the way we do things around here. This is the way we run this boutique, this salon, this ministry. This is the way we do things Monday - Friday in our office; that is the culture, and I want to tell you that culture trumps strategy. Because you can have the greatest strategy in the world, I know we want to get from here to here; we want our sales to be here; we want our impact to be here; we want our church to grow to this number, you can have the greatest strategies in the world and plans, but if you lack good culture, you will never get those strategies done. Why? Because culture is where your people are.

Culture is where your people live, and you as a leader, you’ve got to be dedicated to investing in the culture of your ministry or your organization. You are the driver of culture, and as the owner, as the pastor, as the leader, you cannot delegate culture. You are the one that sets the culture for the organization. So what are you doing to invest in and improve the culture of your workplace, of your environment, or your organization.

If it’s all about people, let me give you a little hint. Now here’s the thing, we could spend an entire training, there are books written around culture, right? There are workshops and seminars around culture. There are all kinds of things you can do to improve the culture of an organization, but really at the essence, culture is about people, and people matter.

What are you doing everyday to invest in your people? To not only improve morale and confidence, but just to show that you care. When you become a caring leader, when you really listen, when you really look people in the eyes, and you learn to ask good questions, all of the sudden, guess what? Culture is going to grow. The way we do things are going to improve. When your culture improves, guess what? You are not going to have a problem losing people. You are not going to have retention problems, and people are going to be more committed to the strategy and to the plan than ever before. Culture matters. You matter.

I hope that you will eat this frog today. I talk a lot about eating the frog first. Mark Twain said, “if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, everything else will be easier the rest of the day,” right. So the frog I want you to eat today is “what can I do to improve culture?”, right. What is a big frog I can eat? What are some conversations I can have? What can I do to invest in my people, invest in the culture? And as a result, everything else will go much smoother, and the results that you are looking for, I promise you, are more apt to follow.


Your #1 fan,

Ryan

Ryan Frank