How often have we heard the phrase ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast/lunch’? Clearly Culture is important, but what exactly is it, how is it created and how does it affect how people think and what people do?
In this article, the author, Ben Thompson, makes the case that culture is the inevitable and unavoidable result of success, not the cause of success. When a company is wildly successful, the behaviors, attitudes, perspectives and mental models – the underlying assumptions – of how the world works ‘slip from the conscious to the unconscious, and it is this transformation that allows companies to maintain the “secret sauce” that drove their initial success even as they scale’.
This is when culture becomes the almost insurmountable barrier to the next success in a rapidly changing world. As the author states ‘culture is one of a company’s most powerful assets right until it isn’t’ and ‘(culture) permits an organization to scale massively but constrains the ability of that same organization to change direction … and prevents organizations from even knowing they need to do so.’
As culture continues to be something that organizations focus intently on, it is good to keep in mind the possibility that we have had the direction of causality all wrong – success creates culture instead of culture creates success.