Tag Archives: culture

Savvy Saturday September 9th, 2017

A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.

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Savvy Saturday August 26th, 2017

Why do we need great writers? Because they are integral in building our brand and our following. Because they help articulate our values and our beliefs. Because they help paint the vision that our followers, our tribe or our organization are working towards. They help us lead by example through articulation of our actions. Writing is a reflection of our thinking and of ourselves – whether as people, as organizations or as society.

From “The Written Word”  by Esther Clark.


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Savvy Saturday January 7th

“Originals are constructive contrarians. They’re not just pointing out that the emperor has no clothes; they’re also tailors.” – Adam Grant

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On Maneuver…

In international business, like in politics, local guides or experts are key to obtaining advantages in new markets. Here, two excerpts from the Art of War:

Sun Tzu:

Those who do not use local guides are unable to obtain the advantages of the ground.

Li Chang:

We should select the bravest officers and those who are most intelligent and keen, and using local guides, secretly traverse mountain and forest noiselessly and concealing our traces…we concentrate our wits so that we may snatch an opportunity.

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Culture and Change

I finished reading Jay W Lorsch and Emily McTague’s article “Culture Is Not the Culprit” in the April issue of Harvard Business Review. I couldn’t agree more with their central thesis that culture isn’t something you “fix” but rather cultural change is what you get when you put new processes or structures in place to tackle business challenges.


As someone whose work involves connecting NEEDS with the WAY of implementing processes or structures, I can’t help but think that a great change management plan is not change then culture but rather one AND the other. Yes, one might come first as a natural first step but just as left and right brain thinking is the hallmark of great leadership, cultural change and organizational change go hand in hand.

I don’t agree with only focusing on CULTURE but if there is no CULTURE to support change than change management will lose its effectiveness. “CULTURE eats strategy for breakfast”…Peter Drucker used to say.

  • EMC
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Culture or Strategy?

I’m a huge Peter Drucker fan and with my participation in the upcoming global forum in Vienna, I am reading blogs, HBR articles and books about Drucker’s contribution to management, leadership and organizational effectiveness.

This post is about culture and strategy but from a consultant or sales perspective – let me explain.

If you are asked by a client or potential client to help them create a video, campaign or branding strategy to influence a change or action that goes against cultural norms (whether organization or society) – should you do it?

I think that culture will always trump strategy if they are opposed. As Peter Drucker is rumored to have said:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” …or lunch or over lunch for that matter!

A few months ago, I read an interesting article by Seth Godin and in it, he touches on how a movie to stop people from driving and texting (or using their smartphone) isn’t going to solve the problem because it is competing against several cornerstones of “our culture” (referring to Western culture I assume). Godin states:

•The culture of the car as a haven, a roving office, and a place where you do what you like
•The culture of the Marlboro man, no speed limiters in cars, ‘optional’ speed limits on roads
•The culture of connection and our fear of being left out
•The culture of technology, and our bias to permit it first and ask questions later

And he advises in this same article that “if you get a marketing assignment where you’re out to change even one of these deeply held beliefs, consider finding a new client. All four? There’s no marketing lever long enough to do this work.”

Cultural norms are so strong that even the best marketing strategy might not work. While this may be frustrating it opens up an even bigger opportunity to consider:

A marketing (or business) strategy that goes along with cultural norms of society or of an organization, is almost certain to be amazingly successful.

So, going back to the question I posed at the beggining of this blog: should you take on a marketing assignment that goes against cultural norms? I would suggest rethinking the marketing strategy – not necessarily stepping out of the box but working within it to find a solution that uses culture to the best advantage in promoting or telling a compelling story.

Culture or strategy? Why not both?

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