You’ve probably heard the quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Well, that’s not really true. In fact, we believe that culture is intrinsically connected to your strategy. And story. In fact, it’s the very manifestation of the two.

Your story clearly defines your company’s positioning, purpose, vision, mission, values and promise to customers.

Your strategy consists of specific actions, investments and initiatives that are required to make the story a reality.

The story frames the mindset and belief system in your culture. The strategy defines the acceptable and aligned behaviors and actions in your culture.

So your culture is truly the byproduct of your story and strategy in action.

We are not saying culture isn’t important. It absolutely is. In fact, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business surveyed more than 1,400 North American CEOs and CFOs and discovered the following:

  • More than 90 percent said that culture was important at their firms
  • 92 percent said they believed improving their firm’s corporate culture would improve the value of the company
  • More than 50 percent said corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, and firm value and growth rates

However, the most shocking statistic from this survey was that only 15 percent said their firm’s corporate culture was where it needed to be.

Why is that? Maybe it’s because they view culture as a separate thing or a net-new initiative. Which means that maybe they need to look at culture differently. Maybe they need to understand that culture is not something that can be manufactured separately from the company’s story and strategy. Instead, it is the manifestation of the story and strategy driving the business.

The challenge is most companies do not have a fully aligned story and strategy. Their words and actions are out of sync. The company says one thing in external messaging and then another through internal communications. The executive team rolls out strategic initiatives that are in conflict with the company’s vision or mission. Leaders make decisions and take actions that do not align with the company’s core values.

Inconsistent words and actions are culture killers. No wonder 50 percent of executives surveyed by Duke’s school of business said consistency and predictability of employees’ actions were key factors in building an effective culture.

So, if culture is a challenge at your company, address the root cause: your story and strategy. Because remember, corporate culture is simply the byproduct of your story and strategy in action.