Culture, Strategy, and Breakfast? Oh, My!

“Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” is a phrase that appears on my screen every week, suggesting culture is everything and strategy is far less significant.

Before you swallow this idea whole, consider… while they are different, with different purposes, when working together, they can strengthen your organization and help it survive and thrive in any environment.

Culture is a set of beliefs, a way of thinking, behaving, and working. Whereas, strategy is a plan or method for achieving a particular goal over a period of time. These terms are neutral; that is, culture and strategy each have the potential to add value, do nothing, or reduce value.

When a culture adds value, teams feels excited and energized, and are devoted. When a culture is neutral, people feel no particular connection or loyalty. And, when a culture is dysfunctional, staff create and practice habits which reduce value, waste talent and resources, and lead to poorer decisions. A dysfunctional culture will eat your organization for breakfast, from the inside out.

Great cultures do not happen. They require conscious effort, and a clear and consistent strategy needs to be designed, developed, and followed. It must begin with your defined organizational identity, leveraging who you are, where you want to go, and what you are not willing to compromise in getting there.

Through complementary strategy, the most effective cultures form, develop, energize, and transform organizations.


1) Both culture and strategy can add value, be neutral, or reduce value

2) Great strategies require organizational identity and a complementary culture

3) Great cultures require conscious effort and tailored complementary strategies

4) Healthy organizations have a healthy culture and strategies working together

When we learn to leverage culture with strategy, and make it an organizational priority to keep them working together, we move our organizations well beyond breakfast… with the healthiest organizations continually having dessert.

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