Designing a Company Culture That Ensures Success

Tom Collver
2 min readOct 4, 2019

You’ve heard it before: Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Whether you’re a breakfast person or not—I like my eggs over easy if anyone is wondering—this saying becomes more and more true to me the longer I’m in business.

But what does it mean?

Strategy is typically viewed as the be-all-end-all for any business or plan. People pay good money for strategy; they obsess over it and overuse the term in almost every way possible. It’s the ‘thing’ that outlines the choices we are going to make and the outcomes we want to see from those choices: We will do ‘A’ and not ‘B’ so that we can see ‘C’.

Strategy is about choices and we do it every day whether we think about it or not. Strategy is everywhere.

Culture is not dissimilar to strategy. It’s about choices as well and it is everywhere. Your company culture exists no matter what. It has a life of its own…if you let it. Just like with strategy, we should be obsessed with not letting culture happen ‘to’ us. We need to make conscious and intentional decisions every day to design our culture in every facet of our company.

Now, back to breakfast.

Why does culture eat strategy at all?

Culture has been viewed for a long time as this passive, touchy-feely, ping pong table and beer o’clock thing, but companies are quickly realizing that it is very much the opposite. It’s the messy centre and heartbeat of what makes your company human. It dictates everything. Culture is everything.

I feel the saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast” comes from the idea that a plan is nice, but if you don’t have the tools to see it through, it won’t work. Therefore, culture eats strategy like rock beats scissors.

But, why does it need to be that way? Why does one need to beat (or eat) the other? Maybe…maybe they need each other.

In most ways, how you do something is just as important as what you do. They go hand in hand. Designing your company culture is a tough task. It takes work and it’s uncomfortable, yep. But if we make the daily choice to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and we consider how we make things happen as much as what we are trying to affect, we will see a world of difference before we know it.

Culture needs strategy for breakfast. After all, it’s the most important meal of the day.

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We recently were interviewed by Inbound Back Office about designing culture. Check it out and have a listen: https://www.inboundbackoffice.com/e100-designing-a-company-culture-that-ensures-success-pb-j

CultureFirst with Kyle Dutka

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Tom Collver

Tom Collver is a Co-Founder of pb+j, a leading eComm design-dev agency for Founder-led DTC brands looking to do the unnormal.