“This Trumps Strategy. You Need More of This.”


Does it really?

By Ted Coiné | Reviewed by Sturdy McKee

In Ted Coiné’s article “This Trumps Strategy. You Need More of This” on the “Open for Business” blog, by Meddle, Coiné makes the case that culture is superior and dominant to strategy. This thought comes from the writer and business consultant Peter Drucker who said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Coiné makes a case for culture, in the form of principles, being more important than strategy, tactics, and practices. He acknowledges that all four are important, and that they are all absolutely necessary, yet he also discusses them as if they were rungs on a ladder—putting principles on the top rung. If principles really are more important, we might place them on the first rung as a foundation to the other facets. The way we articulate our principles through our mission, vision, and core values (MVV) can help to define why, how, and where we are going. MVV also defines our business or practice culture. Whether or not we acknowledge and are explicit about the culture we desire, there is a culture in every business. Like values, it exists whether we write it down or not. By being explicit and defining our core values, we define how we want our culture to look and feel—one expresses the other.

There are those, like entrepreneur, educator, and public servant Warren Rustand, who advocate for strategy and hold it as the most important of the four facets of business. Our strategy, or how we choose to pursue and get to our desired outcome or goals, is important and can determine how quickly, slowly, or completely we achieve our desired outcome. However, this strategy is often influenced by our principles or MVV.


Business management and practices writer Tom Peters said, “Execution is the missing 98 percent for success in business.”1 If execution is the doing—referred to in this article as tactics and practices—then is it not as equally important? We can have the best plans and principles—the best of intentions—but intention without action goes nowhere.

I prefer to define successful business as a mix of culture, MVV, strategy, and execution. I consider business as a three-legged stool where MVV, strategy, and execution are the three legs and culture is the seat that ties them all together. The seat is important. Without the seat we have no stool on which to sit, just three sticks. But without even one of the legs to hold up the seat, it is also not a stool.

It is important that we clearly articulate each of these four facets in order to define why we exist, where we are going, how we will get there, and then apply ourselves to the task each day. While thinkers like to ponder the relative importance of each of these four facets, they work in synergy, requiring all to be aligned to achieve the best ability.

So in your business, as you set goals for the coming year and discuss and define how you do what you do, a culture is already being expressed through the behaviors of those on your team. People are living by a set of values, which may be aligned or in conflict. Being explicit about your culture and MVV is just as important as being explicit about your strategy and execution. Defining them can help you achieve alignment, select the right team members in the future, and stay on the right path for your particular business. So maybe, just maybe, you do indeed “need more of this.”


Sturdy McKee, PT, MPT, is a PPS member and the co-founder and chief executive officer of San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy, SleepSling and ScheduleDoc.co. He can be reached at sturdymckee@gmail.com, www.linkedin.com/in/sturdy or @Sturdy.

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