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Culture Eats Strategy

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

This famous quote from Peter Drucker has popped up a few times of the past couple weeks for me.

We’ve been working on ways to improve our processes and strategy for design and how we work with other teams within our organization. I’ve spent countless hours of the previous months looking at team processes and organizational strategies.

One thing I keep coming back to is “How do we get people to want to do this?” We could outline and micro-manage our process until we turn blue in the face and none of it would matter if we can’t get people to actually read docs, follow a process, and encourage others to to the same.

I just started reading Culture Wins by William Vanderbloemen, and in the opening lines there it was again “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.”

It’s hard to think about designing a culture, what does that even mean? Often a workplace or team culture will develop naturally on it’s own, forming it’s shape based on the individuals present. This can result in an incredibly powerful and productive culture in the indivuduals who are there to shape it have those qualities. Unfortunately, in the same manner, an unintentional culture can also grow to be incredibly apathetic, negative or at it’s worst, hostile.

In UX and product design we often talk about customer empathy; understanding the feelings, emotions, motivations, and frustrations of your customers. However, I feel like we often neglect this very same principle when thinking about management and organizational design, our coworkers are our customers.

I hope to find ways to be intentional about the sort of culture that I cultivate within my teams. My goals are: continued learning, empowerment, and celebration of success. I am not sure of the roads we’ll take to get there, but I look forward to the challenges and victories along the way.

I don’t know that I have a lot to say on the subject right now, these are just some ruminations as I continue to learn about and research developing an intentional culture.

Adam Sedwick

I work on Design systems and Advocate for Accessibility on the web.



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