Regardless of which organizational strategy you try to implement, its success and effectiveness will be determined by the culture in which employees execute the plan. That is what Drucker means by the quote above.
If you want to influence human thinking and behavior, culture is incredibly important. Our culture tells us what is good and what is bad. One of our essential human needs is that we all like to belong to a group. The group gives us a frame of reference for how we want and should behave. This makes us feel connected. We all belong to one or more groups; a group of friends, family, alumni, nationality, but also the organization where you work is a group.
Strategy and organizational culture inextricably linked
Scientific research has shown a direct relationship between a healthy, productive positive organizational culture and organizational outcomes. Despite this, many executives spend most of their time developing and implementing a strategy without considering its effect on culture. This while strategy and organizational culture are inextricably linked.
Strategy is the formal logic behind the process, it provides clarity and rationale for collective action and decision-making. Culture is anchored in unspoken behavior, ways of thinking and social patterns, or as we often call it: ‘the unwritten rules’ of the game. Statements such as ‘that’s how we do it here’ are clinchers for the new critical professional who wonders: why these processes and these actions? Culture seems elusive and difficult to control, but it is extremely tangible in the results of the actions taken. With parliamentary surveys we often try to answer the ‘how did it come to this?’ question afterwards and thereby uncover the ‘HOW’ of the organization.
Leaders determine the norms and values
The right organizational culture acts as a lever in the realization of the strategy, and leadership is central to this. Leaders determine the norms and values and thus the strength of the culture. Take Louis van Gaal’s mantra: “Not the best players win, but the best team.” As a trainer-coach, this is his focus. The team always comes first, no one is more important than the whole. If you don’t understand that, you won’t fit in your team. ‘You can play a perfect game as a player, and still lose as a team’ is an indisputable fact.
Culture is the tacit order of an organization.
Culture gives substance to attitudes, relationships and behavior and ensures that these are made more sustainable. The norms and values within the organization define what behavior is encouraged, discouraged, accepted or rejected. The power of rejecting or admitting something shapes what an organization stands for. When the organizational culture correctly calibrates personal values, motivations and needs, it gives employees the energy to work towards a common goal. Culture is the engine to make a difference in society. Your leadership is the fuel to nurture and direct the organizational culture.