Monday, April 26, 2010

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, and Other Cloying Ideas

Culture Eats Strategy Everyday for Lunch, 2010

I’m an unabashed optimist. I like to think there’s blue sky above me, not clouds. I don’t believe the world’s going to hell in a hand basket. I believe in transformative creativity. I know there are some people about who are evil. But most people aren’t. So I greet them with a smile. I believe in the Golden Rule. I try to find the good in people and give them the benefit of the doubt if I don’t. If I can’t agree with them, I at least try to understand them.

All of this is part of me. I don’t know how to be any other way. But I’m not the kind of person who walks around spouting Pollyanna-ish platitudes or leaving treacly affirmations posted in my wake or in other people’s space to remind us to “Hang in there, Baby!”

And I’m definitely not one of those people who finds inspiration in either “inspirational” speakers or those dreadful “inspirational” posters you see in some offices. In the case of the latter, in fact, it’s been my experience that the mere presence of those posters is as sure proof as anything that the establishment where they’re hanging has a demoralizing workplace culture.

So I was surprised recently when I spent a few hours in an office that was adorned with the whiteboard shown above. The man who occupies this office is a very kind, thoughtful and determined person. He’s bringing major cultural change to a very large institution.

I’ll admit, though, that I was a little surprised to find all these affirmations on the wall. The man whose office this is comes from the South and has the charming ability to draw on a well of countless homespun aphorisms and biblical inspirations. (If you happen to tell him how much you’ve enjoyed getting to know him, for example, he’ll say something like, “And you smell good, too.”) You wouldn’t think he needs any reinforcement.

But it seems he does. And what with this being Monday, I thought you, too, might be in need of a few cloying pick-me-ups to get the week rolling. So here you go:

“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”

“If better is possible, good is not enough.”

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I might not remember. Inspire me and I’ll understand.”

“’Trying’ is just a LOUD way of failing.”

“A problem is defined as a deviation from the standard. So what’s the standard?”

“Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.”

And my favorite:

“Culture eats strategy for lunch.”


  1. Those are pretty good! I had to laugh--Eric once had posters like those inspirational ones you described, but instead of the inspirational quotations on them, they had hilariously demotivating quotes, like:
    "ROCK BOTTOM: You'll know it when you get there," or
    "CHANGE: When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can turn into deadly projectiles."

  2. I have a guy in my office who says things on the phone like "make it a great day" or "because of you I can go on living because the day I don't learn something is the day I die." And we wonder why state workers get such a bad rap!