PwC: Business culture aligned to strategy is key to success

By Janet Brice
A business culture in line with your operating model and strategy can leverage a competitive edge, reports PwC...

What is the culture in your company? According to consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) a business culture aligned to your operating model and strategy can leverage future success.

PwC defines an organisation’s culture as ‘self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking and believing’ which they report if shaped to align with business objectives can offer a competitive edge.

A new report from PwC on business transformation reveals that in a Global Culture Survey, conducted by the Katzenbach Centre, 80% of organisations agreed their culture needed to change significantly for their company to meet its goals.

The advice from PwC in the report, The critical questions facing organisations: And why culture is the answer, is to “target a few critical behaviours to energise your culture and this will help move your business and strategy forward”.

“With remote working becoming far more common as a result of this global pandemic, it is also important for organisations to focus on engaging people in the process of rebuilding and revitalising their culture, while ensuring it is aligned to their operating model and strategy.”

Evolution of business culture

The report points that no complex business tends to have a single, simple culture in a similar way to not having a singular strategy or operating model.

“Strategies shift in response to forces in society and markets. Operating models are constantly disrupted and improved to keep up with emerging technology and changing customer expectations. Similarly, organisational cultures need to evolve in harmony with strategies and operating models to provide the appropriate environment and energy for the overall success of the organisation,” comments PwC.

“This agility of organisational culture and alignment to strategy has become particularly important in the current climate where change is constant. Companies must take a hard look at their culture to determine whether it is helping or hindering strategy execution. If it's hindering, it may be time to look at an ‘evolution,’ which can be achieved by focusing on a few critical behaviours.”

PwC highlights how one of their clients overcome financial distress by implementing three key behaviours in the culture to improve performance. The case study focuses on a global automotive manufacturer plagued with a slow risk-averse culture. 

Three key behaviours include:

  • Understanding which cultural traits need attention. In this case focus-groups were held by senior executives with ‘Authentic Informal Leaders’ - employees who exert influence from the bottom up.
  • Quick decisions should be made. The senior team cancelled a product line expansion in weeks not years in PwC’s case study.
  • Meaning and motivation. “Employees were put in direct contact with their customers more often to help employees gain greater meaning and motivation from their work,” said PwC.

“Ultimately, the effort resulted in faster decision-making, increased accountability, and improved customer and product focus - all of which culminated in what is considered one of the greatest five-year turnaround stories in automotive history,” comment PwC.

“The good news is that all organisations can learn from this example.”

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