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Culture in transition: corporate culture moves to the center of business strategy
From the point of view of business administration, strategic planning is still regarded as the supreme discipline, since it serves to equip every company with a north star that guides the entire organization through its operations. How does an organization behave towards its environment? What individual focus differentiates it from competitors, and what resource allocations produce competitive advantages? Traditionally, strategy provides answers to all these questions for a period of five to ten years - but how does this approach fit in with a world that has been defined for some time now by VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity)?
A content-related as well as process-related adaptation of strategic planning seems to be necessary in order to keep up with the rapid speed of the changing environment and its consequences. Continuous change has become a constant part of corporate reality; thus, an adaptable strategy is also needed to enable resilient corporate management. How can this change of course succeed? Through methods already used in innovation management: swarm intelligence and adaptation loops. The former ensures that more perspectives - and thus opportunities and risks - are taken into account in the strategy process and that the challenges of the corporate environment can be better answered. The latter creates room for short-term adjustments that may result from unforeseeable events such as the Corona pandemic. This approach, borrowed from the agile understanding of values, requires an adapted leadership behavior that gives the workforce room to contribute to the definition of the company's meaning, or Purpose. Managers transform themselves from controllers to transformative companions who, through their work, enable the people entrusted to them and, as a consequence, the entire company to achieve targeted change.
Placing cultural change at the center of business strategy pays dividends in terms of the following goals, taking into account the aforementioned perspectives4,5:
- If culture is freed from yesterday's rigid corset and is allowed a certain fluidity, the outflow of resources for overhead processes can be reduced. Encouraging and allowing self-organization relieves managers and creates space for working on future issues. Employees can experience their own effectiveness more directly on the basis of adjusted key performance indicators (e.g., to promote interaction and decision-making processes), which can increase satisfaction.
- Making work and corporate culture more flexible can have a positive impact on the skillset of the workforce. Location-independent activities can attract employees who would not have applied under traditional conditions. At the same time, the risk of talent flight must be taken into account: If the flexibilization is only lip service and the value-based adaptation of the corporate culture fails to materialize, it must be assumed that retention will be more difficult.
- Recruiting diverse professionals and executives whose career paths enrich the organization's knowledge will be simplified. The gain in diversity can pay off on issues such as increasing innovation and productivity. To increase effectiveness, new career paths are needed that allow for "specialist leadership roles" and creative reward systems far removed from traditional pay scales.
- With appropriate framework conditions, such as preset "meeting-free" periods in the calendar, "blended working" can have a positive impact on employees' health. By making it more flexible, break or sports sessions can be chosen more individually, so that they are more conducive to the individual and subsequently to the resilience of the company.
Resilience is at the heart of the impact of culture as a driver of business strategy. Organizational structures that can respond more quickly, effectively and efficiently to an increasingly complex and volatile environment create security in terms of classic business objectives. Thus, for today's strategy planners, the mission has not changed, but the path to the goal requires urgent adjustment.
This article is an excerpt from the whitepaper "New Work: Key to Future Capability", which was prepared by our Topic Group of the same name as part of the topic "Digital Transformation >New Work<". Download now!
advises the Provinzial Group on innovation and transformation. In this role, she brings "new ways of work" to life together with internal communities as a driving force for an appreciative innovation and corporate culture. From her previous positions at Sparkassen Finanzgruppe and FUNKE Mediengruppe, she can draw on experience in dealing with disruptive business model changes. The New Work expert's theoretical basis is formed by certifications as a Scrum Master and Innovation Facilitator as well as a specialized Master of Science in Digital Innovation & Business Transformation.
started in customer service at INTER, was then in project management for the customer app and customer portal, and is now in project management for the topic of New Work at INTER.