Corporate culture can be a source of true competitive advantage. It’s the glue that serves to connect employees to the business, while also creating trust and a shared sense of purpose within the organization. Culture inspires loyalty, commitment, and a desire by employees to do the right thing. These factors create a powerful, and often unstoppable, advantage in the marketplace.
This competitive advantage originates with employees who – thanks to a strong culture –understand the what, why, and how of their role within the organization. A sustained competitive advantage for an organization is achieved when there is something “special” that cannot be easily duplicated by competitors, and when that something special about the organization has no substitute.
The power of corporate culture becomes even more relevant when a company wants to gain the competitive advantage by moving away from the status quo. At that point, culture serves to define the boundaries within which a strategy can be achieved and is one of the most important assets an organization has—especially during strategic shifts.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” - Peter Drucker
Drucker’s statement is often interpreted to mean that leaders should devote effort and time to create and maintain the desired culture. That’s true; time and effort is critically important when it comes to creating a strong, healthy culture. However, Drucker’s point is somewhat misunderstood. Yes, leaders must pay attention to culture and the influence it has within the organization. But the point Drucker makes is that to be effective, strategy and culture must be consistent.
Often corporate leaders are looking for a culture that will help them facilitate strategy execution. As an example, many executives are interested in identifying the “secret ingredients” of an innovative culture – one that will improve and support new product development. These executives look to organizations such as 3M and Google as the models for cultures that create a competitive advantage based on their consistent track record of successful product innovations. Certainly there is something within the cultures at 3M and Google that inspires a competitive advantage – but culture isn’t as easy as finding one that works somewhere else and then trying to apply it to your organization.
Organizations that work to create a strong culture, build brands consistent with their culture, and retain employees who “fit” the organization can remain strong even in the face of challenges. These are also the organizations that exceed goals beyond their wildest dreams and are able to fully realize the competitive advantage that culture can bring.
If you find yourself wondering how to make your corporate culture a competitive advantage, download our complimentary eBook, How to Make Culture Your Competitive Advantage. In it you’ll find more information, as well as practical tips and suggestions about:
• Why you should make the investment in corporate culture,
• What a strong culture looks like,
• How to create a culture change, and
• How to utilize culture for your competitive advantage
Rather than relying on 8,950,000 definitions of corporate culture, we recommend that your organization does the work required to define culture in a way that works for you and helps you obtain a competitive edge.