Do Your Numbers Drive Your Culture or Does Your Culture Drive Your Numbers

Peter Drucker once said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He was right.

I know, and so do you, countless companies that set financial goals and develop strategies to achieve those goals with their beliefs about execution securely insulated inside a financially driven bubble. When numbers rule, aligned cultures are assumed into existence.“Of course, our people will do it. How can they not buy into the unarguable truth of the numbers?”

Some people do, in fact, react well in a numbers driven culture. Most, however, don’t. Most people need more substance beyond numbers in order to produce great numbers.

It’s imperative that sustainable, high performance companies adhere to a set of Values (to which people are held measurably accountable) that are comprised of both moral guidelines and customer experiences. That mixture of Values can define the context in which high performing cultures can form, thrive and have the potential for brilliant execution of strategies and goals that align with your chosen Values.

Wells Fargo Bank, Volkswagen, and if you want to go back in time, Enron are good examples of misguided, numbers driven organizations. They all tried to execute ambitious strategies, while believing that the appeal and need for material wealth could overpower the cultural conflicts that would ultimately rise up and destroy their reputations, diminish their earnings, reduce shareholder wealth, and in the case of Enron, destroy the company itself. And all three got away with it for years before they were exposed, had their ill-gotten gains and then some erased in a media dramatized heartbeat.

In the final analysis, it is people that believe, conceive, execute and create results.    

In the absence of having a healthy, balanced culture, sustained high performance is impossible. Paying attention to that foundational element does not diminish the importance of numbers. It actually increases the possibilities for you to set and achieve ambitious goals. At AXIES GROUP, we spend a lot of time developing ways to help companies set that course.  Numbers are a way to keep score. They are not the game itself.


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