Fast Company: Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch

A must read:

Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy. Performance-oriented cultures possess statistically better financial growth, with high employee involvement, strong internal communication, and an acceptance of a healthy level of risk-taking in order to achieve new levels of innovation.


If there’s any doubt about the value of investing time in culture, there are significant benefits that come from a vibrant and alive culture:

  • Focus: Aligns the entire company towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals.
  • Motivation:  Builds higher employee motivation and loyalty.
  • Connection: Builds team cohesiveness among the company's various departments and divisions.
  • Cohesion: Builds consistency and encourages coordination and control within the company.
  • Spirit: Shapes employee behavior at work, enabling the organization to be more efficient and alive.

Look at Zappos, one of the fastest companies to reach $1 billion in recent years, fueled by an electric and eclectic culture, one that’s inclusionary, encouraging, and empowering. It’s well-documented, celebrated, and shared willingly with anyone who wants to learn from it. Compare that to American Apparel, the controversial and prolific fashion retailer with a well-documented and highly dysfunctional culture. Zappos is thriving and on its way to $2 billion, while American Apparel is mired in bankruptcy and controversy. Both companies are living out their missions–one is to create happiness, and the other is based on self-centered perversity. Authenticity and values always win.

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