Culture eats strategy for breakfast

We have been working on a cultural and organizational transformation. Our strategy at global and regional level is to move from product & transaction based engagement to solutions & long term partnership based engagement with our clients.

This requires a paradigm shift in how we conduct business, performance management and skill set and capacity in the organization. We have been very successful in some markets however some markets are far behind the curve and working on continuous education and training to transform the company to future solution company. We have deployed multiple initiatives including solution based targets however we are still challenged by the choice of short term versus long term targets. My challenge is how to change the minds and win the hearts of country managers who still prefer short term view and conventional operations rather than focusing long term engagement with our clients.

My question is :

  1. Does target setting and deployment will suffice to make this change?
  2. How can we transform a culture and adapt to a new way of thinking to be successful in long run?
  3. How can we ask our country managers to trade off long term objectives versus short term targets?

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2 thoughts on “Culture eats strategy for breakfast

  1. Great post and great questions. A couple of thoughts as they relate to your questions:

    1) What are the key differences in the markets that have adopted this shift and the ones that have not? Is it people, culture, financial? That could help you determine if target setting and deployment will suffice to make the change.
    2) Is there a clear, simple plan for what “adoption” of this new culture looks like? Do you need to get more people involved who would be evangelist for this new philosophy? Is this new philosophy being communicated at all team meetings? It must be established that this is not “the flavor of the month” but rather the new direction that the whole company is going.
    3) How aligned are the short term targets with the long term goals? Or said another way: if country managers consistently meet short term targets will that lead to the achievement of the long term goals?

  2. I imagine that this type of transformation is incredibly hard and realistically will take time and considerable effort to have it “stick”. Couple of initial thoughts:
    1. Have your shared the mission/vision in clear and specific ways that are digestible to the front line team that will have an important part in the execution of this pivot. Hard to change your mindset when you are unclear of what you are really changing it to. For example in my organization, we made the switch to the service lines and many individuals found the concept too nebulous and therefore stuck to the more department based structure they knew. Progress stagnated until we found a better way to communicate the why and the how.
    2. Align financial incentives. Make sure that the front line teams financial incentives (compensation, promotion ladder, ect, ect) are not aligned to the traditional transactional model but rather the model you are moving towards.

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