Culture Enables Strategy

How do strategy and culture complement each other?

First, it's important to emphasise that in a world where today represents the fastest things have ever been - but the slowest they will ever be - it's untenable to think that strategy can drive culture. The new reality? "Culture enables strategy."

What does "enable" mean? It's a mistake to even think about developing a meaningful strategy until you have first identified the culture you need to compete successfully in the future. In a turbulent world, strategy is, at best, a work in progress. It represents agreed signposts on the journey but the organizational path you have to create and follow is ultimately defined by your culture.

The implications?

It would be foolish to suggest that you don't need a strategy. It's just that it must always be subordinate to, and informed by, the culture you need (not want) to create in the future. What will be around long after strategy has been shredded is your culture. This implies:

  1. Although it's been a mainstay of academic teaching for several decades, it's a misstep to define the strategy and then ask, "What sort of culture do we need to land the strategy?" If you seek to change the culture every time you have to revisit the strategy, fail now … it will save time later.
  2. When subordinate teams lack insight and commitment - strategy is less impactful than it might be. When peer teams lack emotional buy-in - strategy is less effective than it should be. But when tomorrow's culture doesn't enable it - strategy amounts to little more than what could be.
  3. A "black swan" (unexpected and sweeping economic disruption) running into the road is assured. If strategy and culture collide there will be only one winner.
  4. Competitive advantage is fleeting. Today's point of difference is what it will take tomorrow just to get in the game. The only truly sustainable competitive advantage is how quickly the organization learns (culture).
  5. In a business climate marked by turbulence, the value of developing strategic scenarios is compelling.

The tools that TRANSEARCH International (powered by Orxestra®) uses provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership and team 'fit'. Visit our website to learn more about our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment https://www.transearch.com/


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

What Do I Need To Do Today To Make The Business Better Tomorrow?

Talent acquisition is about managing risk. Risk, in turn, is about fit. As disruption, uncertainty and new technology impact how business does business … culture is destined to become evermore important.

Technology, being customer-centric, leveraging big data, agility, reach, responsiveness, innovation, collaboration, coaching, succession, attraction and retention … are all wired into the organisation's culture.

Get culture wrong and many of the building blocks of a successful business amount to little more than a spin of the roulette wheel. Success is about both results (strategy) and people (culture). Both are essential. Both are hard.

All that said, for a leader one question always has primacy, "What do I need to do today to make the business better tomorrow?" No matter the size of your organisation or the sector you operate in, if you really think about that question … culture will figure prominently in the answer.

The tools that TRANSEARCH International (powered by Orxestra®) uses provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership and team 'fit'. Visit our website to learn more about our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment https://www.transearch.com/


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Do You Measure Culture?

The disruptive dynamic currently battering business negates the naïve notion that change can be managed, translated into a series of workshops or framed as a program. To lead is to learn to ride the waves of change. Change thus has to become a way to think … a mindset grounded in a resilient and adaptable approach to interruption and ambiguity.

There are four levels of change:

  1. Transactional – do more of what we have always done better.
  2. Transitional – significant change but we have time to evolve.
  3. Transformational – reinvention and do it now.
  4. Exponential – a tsunami that is merely an introduction to the next and greater tidal wave.

Culture plays a key role in change no matter the degree of change envisaged. Both transformational and exponential change are literally about reinventing the culture. The engine of culture change? A leader who knows how to successfully introduce the culture conversation.

Ongoing and unprecedented uncertainty, meanwhile, demands a culture that is both strong and agile (StrAgility). Strong enough to build commitment to the organisation's mission. Agile enough to "enable" the right strategic scenario to unfold. As to the future, the only thing you can count on is that it will be different. If you don't know where you're going … don't be surprised if you don't get there. What we don't know we can't address. It's difficult to raise the bar if you don't know how high it is. It's essential, however, that the culture measurement express, in business terms, where the organisation's culture is (roots) and where the organisation's culture needs to be (wings).

Here we face the reality that if you don't measure culture, you can't manage it. Intellectually appealing as many of the sociological approaches and those focusing on values congruency may be, if the cultural journey isn't described in business terms, the top team - keeping in mind that most senior teams have a notoriously short attention span - will quickly move on to the next topic. If the language employed to assess the organisation's culture sounds as if it were drawn from a psychology textbook, then that's where it belongs. No less important, culture is strategic. We need to understand both where we are and where we need to be.

It's not a matter of one-size-fits-all. An interactive conversation with the Board on culture invariably demands a different way to present - and thus measure - the organisation's culture. Similarly, transactional versus transformational change are different challenges … a difference that has to be reflected in how the culture journey is presented to those whose support is needed.

Culture Imperative: It's tough to manage what we don't measure.

The tools that TRANSEARCH International (powered by Orxestra®) uses provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership and team 'fit'.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Six Fundamental Hiring Building Blocks

Uncovering, informing, involving, inspiring and successfully bringing on board great candidates draws on six fundamental hiring building blocks:

  1. A winning hiring value proposition - people don't join your organisation, they connect with your story.
  2. The means to define and measure both the organisation culture you have and the culture you need.
  3. A robust performance scorecard.
  4. The means to define the emerging role-specific leadership competencies.
  5. The tools to measure and assess future team fit.
  6. An integration process that provides the structure, support and tools to enable newly hired executives to take a leadership role in their own integration.

The tools that TRANSEARCH International (powered by Orxestra®) uses provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership and team 'fit'. And our integration methodology ensures that new leaders are integrated quickly and successfully without breaking stride.

Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition.

For more on the six building blocks of talent acquisition see The Empty Suit by John O. Burdett (2016).

Insights from "Great Candidates Ask Great Questions" by John Burdett.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.