Consider This

Robert Stevenson’s Thoughts on the Pursuit of Excellence

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

December 18, 2017

by Robert Stevenson

Excessive advertising is the price companies have to pay when they lack an exceptional corporate culture. “Corporate Culture” is the distinctive fundamental character or spirit of an organization that influences the general behavior of employees. Most of us have heard the statement, “As you treat you employees, they will in turn treat your customers the same way.” For some companies, that should be a chilling, scary, disastrous statement. Every year I interview hundreds of employees from the companies who have hired me to speak. It never ceases to amaze me how many of these employees are not truly happy, engaged, or committed to their company.

It is a rare occasion that I hear statements like: “I love working here.” “My boss is so supportive.” “This is a great place to work.” “I really feel management is concerned about me.” “I feel my boss has my best interest at heart.” Managers who are always negative, don’t encourage, micromanage, not grateful, too controlling, untrustworthy, not accountable, unorganized and lack consistency will kill a company.

If your corporate culture is wrong, it doesn’t matter how good your strategy is … you will fail. You will constantly be hiring new people to replace the ones who don’t like working for your company. You will continually need to add new customers to replace the ones who no longer want to do business with you. AND, for the employees who leave your company, but stay in your industry, you will have helped pay to train them for your competition.

As the great business guru, Peter Drucker, once stated: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Hundreds of people tour ZAPPOS, the on-line shoe and apparel retailer, every week and Zappos employees go to great lengths to show them how and what they do. They aren’t worried about competitors stealing their corporate culture. Zappos, armed with the right corporate culture, was able to grow to $1 billion in sales, in just 10 years.

Nordstrom Department Stores has one rule in their Policy Manuel for employees. Let me repeat that … they have ONLY ONE RULE: “Use your best judgement in all situations. There will be NO additional rules.” They go on to say, “Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager ANY questions at ANY time.” A great corporate culture provides greater discipline than disciplinary action does. If you have a constant need for disciplinary actions to keep your employees on the straight and narrow you are either hiring wrong, training wrong and/or leading wrong. The key word in that last sentence is “YOU.”

How is your corporate culture? Are employees showing up early, smiling a lot, helping each other out, volunteering, taking initiative, making suggestions, questioning policies and procedures without fear of reprisal, doing more than expected, and going the extra mile for the customer … then you are doing something SERIOUSLY RIGHT! Your bottom line can be influenced by your strategy, but your survival as a company is totally based on your corporate culture.

If you get your CULTURE right everything else will fall into place.

"Your only true security in life
is your ability to perform."

About the Author

Robert Stevenson is an expert at building a high-performance business culture, improving efficiency, and accelerating growth. He is one of the most widely sought-after speakers in the world today, as well as a best-selling author. He has owned five companies, sold internationally in over 20 countries. Robert has spoken to over 2,500 companies throughout the world and his research in the area of corporate and entrepreneurial success is extensive. Over 2 million people have benefitted from his powerful, practical, and thought-provoking programs. He is a true master at blending facts, inspiration, conviction, and humor into all his programs.

Companies like FedEx, Prudential, Lockheed Martin, Anheuser-Busch, Chevron, American Express, and Berkshire Hathaway continue to rely on him for a fresh, unique perspective on businesses’ most crucial issues. To learn more about Robert and what he can do for your team visit his website at

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