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I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with a former US Naval Officer and current technology innovator that I respect over lunch. The discussion veered towards how our current work at Michael Rainey and Associates (MRA) is empowering leaders through the establishment of an organization-wide, clear, compelling Decision Strategy. It seemed appropriate that he cautioned me (while we were eating) to remember that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.

The Importance of Organizational Culture

This quote, with multiple attributions to management consultant and author Peter Drucker, serves leaders with the stark reminder that sound strategy alone, apart from corresponding sound organizational culture, will never achieve desired outcomes. In fact, it is our belief that organizational culture, aligned through (decision) strategy, is the greatest means to impact operational performance.

Defining Culture and Strategy


An organization’s ‘culture’ is often expressed in general terms as an organization’s long-held beliefs about itself, the expectations of its members, and practices shared by the group (Meredith et al., 2017).1


Shaping organizational objectives (ways) and resource allocation (means) to achieve desired outcomes (ends).  Support the design and synchronization of operations and the assignment of tasks for achievement of these objectives.2

Achieving Sound Culture and Strategy

The question then becomes, what makes a Culture and Strategy sound? In our experience, both are realized when there is focus and alignment at every level of the organization (ways, ends, and means) through common values (beliefs) and common language (expectations and practices).

The ‘How’ for Leaders

  • Common understanding of values of the organization
  • Clear expectations on how to apply those values in decisions at every level
  • Implementing and reinforcing those practices that will lead to objective accomplishment
  • Tracking to ensure those practices are leading to desired outcomes

Ensuring Alignment and Decisive Action

Common values ensure that the strategic ways, ends, and means are tied to the organization’s long-held beliefs. Strategic leaders then ensure that clear, concise expectations are set across the organization for decisive action at every level. That decisive action comes in the form of those daily practices that will achieve strategic objectives and arrive at desired outcomes. As a result, the only thing that our culture ‘eats’ (achieves) are our goals!

How do we know? Because we will monitor our journey to ensure that our practices (actions) are moving us to our goals! If not, we as leaders will ‘shape’ not only organizational objectives but our organizational beliefs, expectations, and practices to get us where we want to go!

At Michael Rainey and Associates (MRA), we specialize in guiding our clients through the complexities of defining their organizational culture and developing a strategy that propels them toward achieving their goals. Whether you need help in setting those goals or aligning your team’s values and practices, we’re here to support your journey.

If you’re interested in exploring how we can assist your organization, we invite you to reach out for a complimentary consultation. Let’s discuss how we can help you achieve your desired outcomes and move forward with confidence.

[1] Defense Organizational Climate Survey (DEOCS) Redesign Phase 1 Overview Report
[2] Joint Publication 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States (JP1)

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