Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch


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This quote, by Peter Drucker, has been on my bulletin board for years as a reminder that a company’s strategy can be as clear as a bell, including the training strategy I’m so fond of reminding people to design before training people, but it all goes to waste if we forget the impact of culture.

In many job descriptions for training managers, we see that they are responsible for culture too. This can be misinterpreted as to how much impact training has on culture that is already in place. Training can reinforce culture if it is the kind of culture you want in your organization, but it cannot change culture all by itself. A good question for applicants is to find out of the culture in question is a good one, or one that needs changing.

All too often I watch companies that are failing in some area that is in direct conflict with the lofty phrases within their vision and mission statements. Once the realization of the disconnect becomes apparent enough for management to agree, I want to cry openly when the knee jerk reaction is to offer up a training program to solve the problem. If there is an internal training function it is dumped in their lap along with the responsibility to change performance to match the desired culture.

Now when a training department takes this on all by themselves stand back and watch time and money disappear with no real change. However, when training says they will be glad to partner with management to introduce, reinforce and measure the results of training, now you have a plan that might work.

Now anytime you try to wrangle culture back in line with strategy you are in for a fight, as long as it is an all hands on deck initiative you have a fighting chance. But if you think an eLearning class, or a fiery presentation will change a culture of harassment all by itself, I have good reason to lose hope in your recovery.

Every single training course you offer should be tied into a process that changes performance. If it does not, then you hired training and human resource employees that lack the skills to do their job. If you need proof, and help delivering the bad news, give me a call and will make the needed changes together.

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