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The Role of Organizational Culture in Strategy Implementation

  Jul 28, 2017

Strathmore Business School held its annual HR Summit on 20th and 21st July, under the thematic topic: Driving Organizational Results through Culture. The Summit converged over 250 Human Resources professionals addressing; the role of culture in organizational performance, building and nurturing thriving cultures, increasing employee engagement, optimizing talent and building high performing teams.

The conference convener, Dr. Hazel Gachunga spoke of the significance of leadership and performance driven perspectives in cultivating progressive organizational cultures, “Significant organizational transformation requires some level of corporate culture change. Transforming culture requires a mind shift where people cease to attend to the needs of their silos over those of the enterprise. This means working together across boundaries in pursuit of win – win outcomes.”

Setting the pace of the summit; Paul Kasimu, Group HR Director Safaricom, spoke of the importance of proper recruiting in enhancing good organizational culture. Realizing the significant role each member of the organization plays, he emphasized on the importance of taking note of the individuals’ character during recruiting, “What is your performance culture is it hard on performance and soft on reason? When you recruit, look at the values of the person. What is their essence. Are their values aligned to those of the organization? If you spend time in recruitment and identifying talent, you will spend less on developing it.”

Giving perspective to the thematic topic, Carl Wagner, Strathmore Business School Executive Fellow, defined Organizational culture as a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguish the organization from other organisations. “A healthy organizational culture is one that incentivizes one to do more than what is required,” he remarked. He also urged HR professionals to identify and be keen on the following elements; what has been the driving force behind a specific culture, who are the pacesetter of the culture in the organization, and what are their set threshold standards.

For a strategy within an organization to be developed and implemented successfully it must align with the organizational culture. When culture aligns with strategy implementation, an organization can operate more efficiently in the global market place. “A company’s culture is its basics personality, the essence of how it’s people interact and work. Culture is very instinctive. A good culture cannot be copied or easily pinned down. However, if you do not speak to the heart of your employees, you will not change a poor culture,” said Dr. Fred Ogola, Senior Faculty and MBA Academic Director, Strathmore Business School. “Culture is a performance driver. We know that there is a good culture if the performance is good. What is the performance measurement? Set it right. For us to understand how culture drives the strategy, we must understand the execution. Execution is the result of thousands of decisions made every day by employees acting on the information they have and their own self-interest,” added Dr. Ogola.

When changing the organisation’s culture it is critical to examine the following; Does performance management matter, is decision making respected and are there consequences for non-compliance? 

Leaders with strong organizations shape a lot of the values and the belief systems in the organization and they help members construct the social reality. A leader who can shape the organizational culture positively can influence the performance of the organization.

Digital Migration has been quite hard hitting to the Media industry. Sharing his experience on managing human capacity during such transitional times; Joe Muganda, Chief Executive Officer, Nation Media Group emphasized on the importance of leadership and performance standards that translate into the growth of the organizational culture, “The unwritten rules are what influence how work is done and that is the culture of the organization. It is crucial to make sure that the unwritten rules become the company policy.”

Speaking of managing transitional and turbulent times in the organization, Fred Nyawando – Deputy HR Director Barclays spoke of the importance of volatility and flexibility in managing people in uncertain times, “HR professionals live in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times. Ensuring that you manage your organization’s culture during such transitions is key. We must make it our duty to always prepare people for tomorrow.”

Several models for assessing organizational culture exist. Their use depends on what the organization aims to achieve. Several models for assessing organizational culture exist. Their use depends on what the organization aims to achieve. One of the models that has been in existence and has been heavily researched is the Competing Values Framework (CVF).

An innovative culture begins with accepting that the world has really changed and there is need to be open to more. Creative thinking and collaboration can be encouraged and rewarded. Culture is a complement to the formal, established roles of doing business.

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