Why Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

August 26, 2021
The Culture Equation
Why Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

You’ve probably heard the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” many times before.

It describes the idea that a kick-ass business culture will always win over a competitive organisational strategy. It applies to a lot of situations – growth, hiring, innovation, investors and more.

But have we ever thought about why culture is such a powerful tool?

It’s a common misconception that culture is only about the environment, when in fact it’s a lot more than just great perks and a vibing office space. Culture is a system of shared beliefs that not only influences the way teams work, it helps solve challenges and guide a company towards its future. 

On the other hand, strategy is a competitive plan that uses tactics and outputs to reach goals, usually relating to growing a company’s advantage or market share.

While strategy is something that can be easily measured and defined, culture is a much more human-based concept and hence it’s something that is usually put on the back burner in terms of company priorities. 

However, culture should be the one thing businesses should prioritise as it can have significant positive flow-on effects to many parts of the business. Let’s explore that some more. 

Why do people think culture is more powerful?

First things first, is that culture has shown to be an effective tool to increasing profits, growth, employee engagement and plenty more. 

If your employees are highly-engaged, which results from a good culture, you can expect up to a 21% increase in profitability. This is because if your employees feel engaged and inspired they will be 125% more productive than a dissatisfied employee. Having a clear purpose and vision is an important aspect of achieving this great culture. And when that purpose is understood and lived, 58% of companies experienced over 10% growth. 

It’s important to note that culture is only a powerful tool when it’s designed correctly. If your culture is mismatched or undefined, it will have detrimental effects on productivity and employee relationships. On the other hand, if it’s strongly defined and shared by your whole team, it will guide every process in your business – from hiring like-minded people to approaching new ideas and innovations. 

In a competitive environment, hiring the best talent is an important advantage. X-factor talent, people with years of industry experience and expertise, can bring a wealth of knowledge and innovative practices to start-ups so it’s important to get your company to the top of their list. 

Culture can do the hard work for you

Creating a kick-ass culture that your highly valued people love is the first step.

Once it’s flourishing, your team, partners and previous employees all become your advocates, explaining how good their workplace is. In fact, 89% of engaged employees will recommend their workplace if they have a people-focused culture.

From there, your reputation, brand equity and employee engagement will grow. 

What exactly do X-Factor Talent look for?

The Culture Equation sat down with a few x-factor candidates to get a better understanding of what exactly they look for in their next company. Unsurprisingly, good culture was their biggest attraction and also something that was necessary for their own career achievements.

What are X-factor Talent looking for

What are X-factor Talent looking for

It also vet your candidates before you get there. If your culture is well-known, only people that have similar values and aligned purpose will show their interest, saving you time on weeding through poor-fits. And when 91% of managers say a candidate’s alignment with company culture is equal to or more important than skills and experience, this is an important step that should not be skipped.

Building on this, culture is an effective recruiting tool because it shows sustained success. Culture takes time and effort to create and grow. It’s not something that can be “switched on” when it’s time to attract talent. It has a ripple effect on many other business processes and does what words and interviews sometimes can’t do – demonstrates the purpose, values and practices of the company in one master stroke.

So while strategy is an important business tool, a good culture does the hard work for you. A mixture of both will be an incredible competitive advantage to help your start-up grow and flourish.