4 Things that kill business strategy

Culture is not the only thing that kills strategy

4 Things that kill business strategy
Photo by Ali Saadat / Unsplash

It's Peter Drucker who is credited as once having said ; "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."

What he meant by that is that no matter how well thought-out and clever your business strategy may be, if the prevailing collective behaviour that exists within the organisation does not support the development of that ideal state, it will never been realised.

And even though people tend to think of Drucker as somewhat of an academic, we have seen practical examples of culture killing strategy in countless organisations.

Culture, if left unchecked, can kill more than just your strategic plans for the future. This silent assassin can harm your existing operating mechanisms and radical curtail a business' ability to service its customers.

Ignoring the tyranny of culture in favour of focusing on measurable factors like strategy is a bit like encouraging a cancer patient to run a sub-2 hour half marathon in an attempt to improve his overall health.

Culture assessment and design then needs to work in unison with strategic planning if the later is to be affective.

Culture is not the only thing that kills strategy

In addition to 'culture', you can throw in the other strategy killers [the 4Cs] of 'communication', 'collaboration' and 'clarity'.

Communication - without an open, transparent and effective mechanism for transferring information, knowledge and wisdom within an organisation any strategy project will be seen to be shrouded in secrecy and mystery and will never achieve the buy-in from team members to fully leverage the opportunities it offers.

Collaboration - without a recognised flexible, dynamic and integrated framework for interdepartmental collaboration and unity towards a single vision, you will always end up with internal conflict and empire-building that will undermine any strategic planing efforts.

Clarity - nothing kills plans faster than ambiguity. Clear guidelines as to what the business stands for, its purpose, its values, its brand, its measurements of success and exactly what is expected from people are vital if a strategy is going to stand any chance of having an impact on the future of the business.


Addressing the 4Cs as a part of a strategic planning project is important, but also time-consuming and labourious. It takes time because the work involves carefully shifting mindsets in people.

Influencing the entrenched mental models of people requires patience, trust and creativity rather than just a simple three-step guide as to how to do it, but ignoring the work required is a sure-fire way to botch your strategy.