Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast — or Does it?

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” famously attributed to the late business guru Peter Drucker, perfectly states the need for an organization’s culture to be aligned with its strategic objectives for there to be any hope of fully realizing them. Culture is tribal and pervasive. And, it can vary depending on the group, environment, or objectives. But, this powerful and often unconscious set of forces that influences both individual and collective behavior can be harnessed to drive culture change and reinforce shared values within an organization or project team. Speakers explore examples of “epic culture fails” resulting from strategy that neglected the cultural component, then impart seven tips to drive outcomes that leverage culture to support organizational- or project-based strategy. These tactics can be used to support a company or project team’s core values and culture while creating synergies with strategic initiatives and shortening the time to adoption. Aligning the strategy of whatever it is you are trying to do with the culture of whoever it is you are working with is paramount. It can mean the difference between success and failure. Culture doesn’t have to eat strategy for breakfast; they can be harnessed together to create organizational strength and a better overall customer outcome.


  • Kim Glover, Global Manager of Knowledge Management, TechnipFMC
  • Tamara Viles, Manager of Knowledge Architecture, TechnipFMC

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Slides: 

Viles & Glover – C202_Viles.pptx
Glover & Viles – C202_Glover(1).pptx


  • Value Moment.
    • A Value Moment =
    • Today’s Value Moment: Knowledge Mangement needs to be just in time, just for me, and just what I need.
  • Culture.
    • Culture is critical if you want to execute your strategy.
    • Culture = how we do things around here
    • It is an unconscious set of forces that influence individual and group actions
    • Ed Schein is the considered the father of culture. He wrote Organizational Culture and Leadership, and the Corporate Culture Survival Guide.
      • What is Culture?
        • Structures and Process: the visible layer of culture, the observable artifacts
        • Espoused Values: the stated mission, how the organization talks about itself internally and externally.
        • Real Culture: the basic assumptions of an organization — what the group has learned over time from its successes and failures. These assumptions, ideas, even pictures need to be challenged and replaced if you want to change the culture. These are the unwritten rules.
    • Examples of strong organizational culture
      • Starbucks
        • Structures & Process: their observable artifacts (the way they look, they way they work) are strong and consistent
        • Espoused Values: they buy fair trade coffee, they recycle, they hire veterans
    • Culture reinforces itself by promoting people who live by the organization’s unwritten assumptions and beliefs.
  • Epic Culture Fails.
    • Wells Fargo is currently suffering an enormous gap between the organization’s stated mission and their culture.
    • AT&T/AOL Time Warner merger — early reports indicate that the two companies have radically different cultures. And they have fairly negative assumptions/beliefs about each other.
    • Hollywood is suffering a huge gap between stated values and actual culture/behaviors.
  • Components of Great Culture.
    • Clear Vision and Strategy: Volvo has an unambiguous commitment to safety that they have built on over decades.
    • Shared Values: Your actions must align with your words. (Walking the talk.)
    • Common Practices: Your processes must align with your strategy and values.
    • Engaged People: According to, departments with healthy culture have 30% less turnover in staff.
    • Common Narratives: Positive stories that celebrate and strengthen an organization’s unique culture.
    • Reinforcing Physical Environment: Physical surroundings that align with and support the culture.
  • Tips and Tricks for Healthy Culture.
    • Seize every opportunity to reinforce your culture.
    • Assess your culture before creating your strategy. Will they be mutually supportive?
    • What you reward is what you will get.
    • Collect and share stories that support your culture.
    • Identify your champions and evangelists
    • Keep people engaged by making work fun.
    • Build on the familiar by integrating new things with existing practices.
    • Make the invisible visible: provide help and support — connect the dots so people can find what they need and share what they know.