By Corwin Smith
Co-founder and Business Coach, Culture to Cash
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
There’s nothing like a good, hearty breakfast to kickstart your day, and according to business management guru Peter Drucker, culture is the “most important meal” for your organization. Let’s be real—it’s not just about having a game plan; it’s about creating an environment that empowers everyone to bring their best selves to execute that plan. Sound like a mission? Well, “it isn’t easy, but it is simple,” to paraphrase Jim Collins.
Strategies for Fostering Collaboration: Get in the Game, Leaders!
Leaders Go First
As Shannon Susko’s “Metronomics” lays out, leaders set the rhythm for the team. You can’t expect a culture of collaboration without rolling up your sleeves and diving in yourself. Initiate brainstorming sessions, seek diverse perspectives, and express genuine appreciation for contributions.
Create Cross-Functional Teams
Picture a marketing maven and an accounting ace hashing out ideas. Verne Harnish’s “Scaling-Up 2.0” suggests that breaking down silos can lead to holistic, company-wide solutions. What you get are ideas and solutions that otherwise might never see the light of day.
Invest in Collaboration Tools
Slack, Trello, or Microsoft Teams, pick your poison. Choose platforms that ease communication across geographical or even just cubicle barriers.
Reward Collaborative Behavior
“Pour on the praise for positive shifts,” as you would a generous helping of syrup over pancakes. Incentives and recognition programs can turn collaborative efforts into the norm rather than the exception.
Train and Educate
Offer workshops that embody Simon Sinek’s teachings on leadership and effective communication. The focus? Team-building techniques that elevate collaboration from a buzzword to a business practice.
Common Hurdles and How to Jump Over Them
Silos and Departmental Barriers
These are the corporate equivalents of the Berlin Wall. Tear ’em down. Initiate cross-functional projects to get the different departments talking, or at least, Slack-ing.
Mistrust & Competition
As Gino Wickman might point out in “Traction,” internal competition can be a corrosive force. Shift the focus from competing against one another to conquering the market. The key? Building trust—early, often, and consistently.
Lack of Clear Communication
We’re all human, subject to misunderstandings. Assessment tools like DISC can serve as a “business Rosetta Stone,” helping team members decipher each other’s unique communication styles.
Case Studies: The “Who’s Who” of Collaborative Culture
Pixar Animation Studios
This isn’t just an animation studio; it’s a creativity powerhouse. The layout of their Emeryville office resembles the Rockefeller Habits Checklist in physical form—a designed space to optimize unexpected interactions and collaborative endeavors.
Gore-tex, anyone? Their lattice organizational structure shuns traditional hierarchies, embracing direct communication and passion-driven projects. It’s almost like if Peter Drucker and Shannon Susko brainstormed an organizational chart.
Squads, tribes, chapters, and guilds—sounds like a Tolkien novel but it’s Spotify’s winning strategy for collaboration. It’s an agile approach that blends individual autonomy with alignment towards company objectives.
The Road Ahead
Building a culture that prioritizes collaboration is akin to crafting a fine wine—it’s an ongoing endeavor that requires the right ingredients, process, and, above all, time. As leaders, your commitment is the secret sauce that can make or break this transformation. So, let’s all agree on one thing: while culture may eat strategy for breakfast, it takes a balanced “diet” of both to truly thrive.
Creating this culture is no “one and done” endeavor. And there’s always room to bring something unique to the table—your unique flavor of leadership that blends tried-and-true methods with innovative twists. It’s this very blend that sets you—and by extension, your organization—apart in this dynamic business landscape.
Cheers to building a culture that’s not only ready to eat strategy for breakfast but is also well-prepared for all the other meals of the day! 🥂