Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

January 29, 2015 Judi Hess

My philosophy on corporate culture is aligned with Peter Drucker’s famous quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Peter Drucker (1909-2005) was an educator and author whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundation of the modern business corporation. He was known as “the founder of modern management”.

Why do I think this?

Many people focus on the right strategy, and believe that the right strategy will propel the corporation to success—and customers, shareholders and employees to happiness. The right strategy is clearly important, but for me, having  the right corporate culture is the number one priority. Without this, success may be elusive. And I don’t like to leave things to chance.

What is a corporate culture?

It’s generally defined as the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization. It’s about what’s important. It’s about what gets rewarded. It’s about who fits in and who doesn’t. Ultimately, it determines how the world—customers, partners, shareholders and the greater community—views the company and what its brand means.

My philosophy on corporate culture has been developed over 35 years working in, and leading, high tech companies. The right culture should extract the best out of every employee. And the best way to do that is to have the team itself develop that culture. Then the team owns it, and will enforce alignment to the culture, because they believe in it.

The result?

Every employee ends up being a cultural ambassador for the company.

I also believe you must explicitly write the culture down in black and white so that it is unambiguous and so that everyone can understand it. And as new people join the company, you vet them to determine if they will fit in, and you train them on what it means to be part of Copperleaf.

At Copperleaf we developed the culture as a team and we wrote it down. At the highest level it looks like this:

  • Deliver exceptional value
  • Provide extraordinary experiences
  • Be agile
  • Be respectful
  • Be open
  • Always improve
  • Embrace fun

Hire the best people, and create the right culture and I believe the strategy and success will follow!

Watch this video to learn more about our culture and hear what our customers have to say about what it’s like working with Copperleaf.

About the Author

Judi Hess

Judi has been the CEO of Copperleaf since 2009. She recently won the BC CEO Award, was named BC Tech Person of the Year, and was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women.

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