October 4, 2016

Corporate Culture and Leadership - Keys to Effective Strategy Execution - Review Notes

Based on Chapter of Thompson and Strickland


Assessing the Current Culture and Modifying it to Fit Strategy


The beliefs, goals, and practices called for in a strategy may be compatible with a firm’s culture or they may not. When they are not, a company usually finds it difficult to implement the strategy successfully. A close culture-strategy match that energizes People throughout the company to do their jobs in a strategy-supportive manner adds significantly to the power and effectiveness of strategy execution.

When a company’s culture is out of sync with what is needed for strategic success, the culture has to be changed as rapidly as can be managed. A sizable and prolonged strategy-culture conflict weakens and may even defeat managerial efforts to make the strategy work.

A strong culture and a tight culture-strategy alignment is a powerful lever for channeling behavior and for influencing employees do their jobs in a more strategy-supportive manner.

It is the strategy-maker’s responsibility to understand the company culture, and select a strategy compatible with the “sacred” or unchangeable parts of prevailing corporate culture. He also has to foresee how he is going to change the culture to support the strategy that he is proposing. During the strategy implementation, it is an important task, , once strategy is chosen, to change whatever facets of the corporate culture hinder effective execution.


Changing a company’s culture and aligning it with strategy are among the toughest management tasks--easier to talk about than do. Thompson and Stickland advocate that managers have to talk openly and forthrightly to all concerned about those aspects of the culture that have to be changed. The talk has to be followed swiftly by visible actions to modify the culture-actions that everyone will understand are intended to establish a new culture more in tune with the strategy.

What makes a spirit of high performance come alive is a complex network of practices, words, symbols, styles, values, and policies pulling together that produces extraordinary results with ordinary people.


Leading the Strategy Execution Process


1. Monitoring Progress, Finding out issues which are challenging the progress of strategic activities and coming up with solutions.
2. Putting constructive directing effort to achieve good results.
3. Keeping the organization focused on operating excellence - Effectiveness and Efficiency.
4. Supporting the development of stronger core competencies and competitive capabilities.
5. Displaying ethical integrity and leading social responsibility initiatives.
6. Implementing corrective actions to improve strategy execution and achieve the planned results.


1. Communication, Monitoring Progress, Finding out issues which are challenging the progress of strategic activities and coming up with solutions.

Develop a broad network of formal and informal sources of information
Talk with many people at all levels
Be an avid practitioner of MBWA  (Management by Walking Around)
Observe situation firsthand
Monitor operating results regularly
Get feedback from customers
Watch competitive reactions of rivals

2. Putting constructive directing effort to achieve good results.

Support people who are willing to champion
Innovative ideas and products
Better services
New technologies
Promote continuous adaptation to changing conditions

Encourage people to be creative and imaginative
Tolerate mavericks with creative ideas
Promote lots of tries and be willing to accept failures (most ideas don’t pan out)
Use all kinds of organizational forms to support experimentation (venture teams, task forces, “skunk works” and individual champions)
See that rewards for successful champions are large and visible


3. Keeping the organization focused on operating excellence - Effectiveness and Efficiency.
4. Supporting the development of stronger core competencies and competitive capabilities.

Responding to changes requires top management intervention to establish new organizational capabilities, resource strengths and competencies.

Senior managers must lead the effort because it involves planning to support current strategy as well as anticipated future strategy.

It involves significant investments in training, experimentation and trail and error attempts to produce components, products or services using the new knowledge and skills to develop the competence.

Capabilities reside in combined efforts across departments, requiring integration. New processes have to be authorised and created to provide the necessary intermediate or final products or services using the new capabilities.


5. Displaying ethical integrity and leading social responsibility initiatives.

Having “family friendly” employment practices
Operating a safe workplace
Taking special pains to protect the environment
Taking an active role in community affairs
Interacting with community officials to minimize impact of
Layoffs or
Hiring large numbers of new employees
Being a generous supporter of charitable causes and projects that benefit society

6. Implementing corrective actions to improve strategy execution and achieve the planned results.

Requires both reactive adjustments and proactive adjustments
Involves reshaping long-term direction, objectives, and strategy to unfolding events and promoting initiatives to align internal  activities and behavior with strategy



Organizational culture - a note

Strategy For Success Needs to be Supported by Culture - Research report by Booz and Company


Video presentations on corporate and company culture

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Updated on  7 October 2016,   24 March 2016, 31.5.2012, 19 Dec 2011

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