By Wilhelm Crous, 26 August 2021

Rethinking company strategy has become a widespread trend in light of the global pandemic- but as Peter Drucker notoriously pointed out, this might be the wrong focus.  Drucker’s famous phrase “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast” stands out against the current patterns of repositioning strategies to speed up digitisation, develop new business models and implement new working arrangements that accommodate remote and hybrid options- begging the question: How does culture fit into the current work landscape?

More and more executives are subscribing to the importance of a strong Corporate Culture. 67% of the respondents to PwC’s Global Culture Survey of 2021 indicated that the organisations’ culture is a priority, which was a substantial increase from the 53% indicated in 20131. 81% of the respondents believed that their corporate culture was a source of competitive advantage, a belief supported by the better business outcomes of organisations with a distinctive culture. For example, 48% of participants with a strong culture saw an increase in revenue during Covid-19; 80% reported higher employee satisfaction and 89% reported higher customer satisfaction. The evidence clearly points to a strong corporate culture being highly beneficial, yet curiously, global implementation has lagged behind.

This may be caused by a leadership blind spot. In an article published in a recent edition of MIT Sloan Management Review, Hollister, Tecosky, Watkins and Wolpert2, warned that “like fish unaware to water, senior leaders may become too accustomed to their own perspectives regarding culture.” It is important for leaders to obtain input from newcomers, first-line employees, customers, and other stakeholders to overcome this blind spot and efficiently update their culture.

However, changing corporate culture can be messy and complex. Hollister et al state that although there is “no best way” they have identified seven elements of adaptive culture that is consistent in business that have transformed successfully:

  1. Customer Centricity: Understanding and prioritizing the needs to customers rather than focusing on products or profit.
  2. Ecosystem focus: Prioritizing the well-being of the entire multiorganizational system and not just the company.
  3. Analytical orientation: Fully embracing the power of date and analytics in decision-making rather than replying only on experience or judgement.
  4. Collaborative reflex: Proactively engaging in cross-organisational collaboration and teamwork rather than working in silos.
  5. Bias to action: Valuing speed, not risk minimization, over perfection.
  6. Learning mindset: Engaging in experimentation and rapid learning.
  7. Leader as enabler: Empowering and energizing people while holding them accountable.

Despite the guidelines provided above, changing culture is hard work. “It is challenging enough to changes one’s own habits never mind those of thousands of employees.” According to Kevin Oakes, one of the international speakers at the upcoming Designing Organisational Cultures for Disruptive and Different Times and Author of “Culture Renovation”, only 15% of organisations succeed at changing their culture.

In order to improve your odds of effectively changing your corporate culture, Knowledge Resources will be facilitating an international discussion on the topic. Join us at the Designing Organisational Cultures for Disruptive and Different Times conference to hear South African and International thought leaders provide guidelines and case studies to change corporate culture successfully. We look forward to seeing you there!


Hollister, R., Tecosky, K., Watkins, M., & Wolpert, C. (2021, August 10). MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved from

Sethi, B. (2021). Retrieved from