Culture Trouncing Strategy

I’m seldom my best under intense pressure. In fact, according to the Myers-Briggs research that GiANT uses as a foundation for much of our work, intense pressure often drives us in the grip of our greatest weaknesses. In my case, as an ENTP, when I get overloaded, I binge, on Ben and Jerry’s, poorly written Vince Flynn Novels, exercising like I think I’m still 25, or worse… much worse.

Stress does bad things to all of us… Stress does bad things for organizations too, not just individuals.

Culture > Strategy

One of our GiANT Axioms is: “Culture trumps strategy under pressure.” It’s too true.

Not long ago I was with a GiANT CLiENT (my wife Jill’s clever little play on words) and I saw firsthand the difficult reality of this principle. We’ve been working hard to help this leadership team drive their core values down through all the levels of their organization; they’ve been making great progress. But the day of my visit some unexpected challenges hit and hit hard. Literally, before my eyes this principle began to play out… those pressures were forcing out of the way the very progress that had begun to move the company. What was revealed was the old, stubborn culture, still alive and well.

The Good News

That leadership team saw this happening and stopped it, right on the spot. “Wait a minute,” one of the manages said, “It doesn’t matter what pressures are dumped on us. We can’t control that. But we can control our responses and whether or not we transfer those pressures down the line to those we’re leading. I can choose to stop it.”

Suddenly the principle hit me between the eyes! Even as the pressures were revealing the stubborn remnants of an old and unhealthy culture, the new culture already taking root was rising up to TRUMP the pressure. It was a very cool twist on a unbending truth… Culture trumps strategy under pressure… But a strategy to live out a new culture will trump pressure every time as well. And that’s the last word on that…

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