Unlearning, learning, and a culture of strategic thinking

Organizational culture is relevant to both strategy and operations. Most agree that culture includes a set of shared values (about what is good and bad), beliefs (about the relationships of cause and effect), and assumptions (about the things that can be taken for granted).

As a simple working definition, culture means the shared learning of a group of people. Their shared learnings are about their originations, their strengths, and their future. Indeed, our families, churches, schools, and organizations go to great lengths to imbue members with shared values and beliefs.

Organizational culture imprints on new entrants and influences their behavior. Anyone who has spent time in a large organization has interacted with new hires and their enthusiasm and fresh ideas. Unfortunately, the drive and fresh ideas diminish over time as they become immersed in operational specializations, bureaucratic rules, and processes. Not to be overlooked are the erosive pressures of day-to-day problem solving and the energy-suck of political infighting. Jerry Weinberg explains that the individual is more likely to sop up the values and quirks of culture than a culture is to be changed by the actions of an individual: “The cucumber gets pickled more than the brine gets cucumbered.”

Organizations hold deeply embedded values for productivity, prediction, and perfection. The organization’s culture of operations is the brine that pickles a person’s inclination to think strategically.

Short stack of book
.…The above is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of 
How to Think Strategically, available at all major booksellers. The book’s big idea is that strategic thinking is an individual competency that can be recognized and developed. As individuals steadily improve their capacity to think strategically, the organization gains potential to craft strategy that is good, powerful, effective, clever, and nuanced.

“The entire book is outstanding for both newly-interested and accomplished strategists. The author recommends self-development to the reader through a routine practice of selecting one of the twenty microskills, such as “personal resilience” or “devalorization” for focus each week. Valuable insight is presented on culture with respect to strategic fit, transition and transformation. I found the easy flow of the book’s concepts and the weekly practice to be just that; a great fit boosting my skill as a competent strategic thinker at work and beyond.”
Mel – Amazon Verified Purchaser Customer Review

About Greg Githens

Author, How to Think Strategically (9 July 2019) Executive and leadership coach. Experience in driving change in Fortune 500 and mid-size companies through strategic initiatives and business transformation. Seminar leader and facilitator - high-impact results in crafting and delivering strategy, strategic initiatives, program management, innovation, project management, risk, and capturing customer requirements.
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