At a recent training event with industry executives, I learned what a seasoned executive consultant thought were the most important components of developing a five-year plan for each executive’s business: strategy, goals, and values.
Only, he said values were optional. They real key, he said, was strategy. And he proceeded to spend the next four hours focused exclusively on that.
This view, which is held by many, paints an incomplete picture.
Strategy defines where your destination is and the route you want to take to get there. It’s critical.
Values define how you will behave. How you behave defines your culture. Values, like cultures, exist whether you define them or not. They are not optional. They just are, by design or by default. And they determine the effectiveness of the tactics you implement to meet strategic objectives.
Allowing values to develop by default is no less careless than allowing a strategy to develop after you've started to implement it.
When you develop a strategy, you are laying the track to your destination. When you define your values and culture, you define how quickly, efficiently, and safely you will reach that destination. Strategy and culture, then, go hand in hand.
An intelligent strategy without clearly defined values and a well-designed culture is like constructing a railroad track for a Lamborghini. Your strategy is the destination and route. Your values and culture are a matter of putting the best vehicle on that route. One without the other is incredibly ineffective.