personal development
26 Apr 2019

It's the culture that matters but it's the people that make the difference

It's the culture that matters but it's the people that make the difference

The very infamous quote "culture eats strategy for breakfast" by Peter Drucker has not escaped many of us. Never has it been more true than today. In my work I have the opportunity to observe many different groups of people, going through the same practice within a certain context. This has made me realise that culture truly matters, much more than I have ever been able to comprehend.


Culture, including values, attitudes and logic, also influences decision-making, experiences and the evaluations of a practice. Regardless of whether the practice is internal within an organisation or reaching outside the own organisation to customers and partners. Culture is always a reflection of the people, their values and actions within a context.

Culture can't be set – it emerges

Culture as a concept is often perceived as fuzzy and hard to manage or lead. This means that it is not uncommon to focus on managing processes instead of culture. However, leading processes does not automatically lead to results. To influence or lead a culture is much harder, since it requires setting the focus on people instead. To lead people, a leader needs to know the individuals, their personalities, values and mental models. The key to changing or leading culture, is to adapt the methods depending on the individuals in the group.

But wait, it's starts with you

The vantage point of culture change is not individuals of a group. With organisations being so streamlined today, there is a dire need for another kind of leadership – self-leadership. To influence the culture, or even to attempt to change or lead it, it requires change firstly in oneself and only then others. Talking will not change much but your own behaviour and actions just might.

In a world of ever-increasing technological development, with AI and IoT taking over and replacing certain tasks and machine learning algorithms even making human independent decisions possible, a focus on culture might seem strange and unnecessary. However, at the end of the day people still matter for the success of an organisation, presuming that the organisation can keep up with technological standards and innovations. Consequently, also culture and leadership will remain critical factors of success.

In conclusion, smart organisations invest in both creating a winning culture via continuous people and leadership development and to keep up with the tech race.


One of the most comprehensive business leadership programmes is an Executive MBA and for an organisation in transformation custom-designed development programmes make perfect sense. Hanken & SSE Executive Education proudly offer all forms of leadership and organisational development. We create impact through moments of insight with our customers and partners, contact us – we are happy to help you succeed.

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Henrich Nyman
Growth Area Director, Degree Programmes - Ph.D.
+358 40 352 1481 henrich.nyman(a)
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