No Breakfast for Culture

Thomas Nagels
Jul 8, 2017 · 2 min read

The above is a famous quotation attributed to the late business management guru Peter Drucker. The statement seems to imply that culture is more important than strategy. But that’s not really true.

The difference

In business, a culture is defined as the combination of vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits. Basically it’s the less tangible stuff which makes a company a nice place to work (or not). Culture is driven from the leadership, but it requires everyone’s participation.

In an earlier blogpost I already explained my view on Strategy. It’s the medium term plan which sets the goals for the company. This is what drives your business, and it also defines success.

The relation

Recent examples like the problems at Uber show the importance of a good company culture. If you build your company to be an aggressive environment, this will lead to excesses. A good culture uses internal cooperation to drive external competition, as this is the most productive environment for people to work in. If you set up your company like this, you will have a team which can rally around a goal and achieve it.

A strategy on the other hand is needed to define this goal. If you don’t have a goal, what is your team aiming for? It’s like a sports team that does not know the rules of the game. You can have the best culture, but without a clear goal and path forward you will achieve nothing.


So, that’s why I don’t agree with the “breakfast statement”. Culture is equally as important as strategy. They should be having breakfast, lunch and dinner together.

Originally published at on July 8, 2017.

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