mandag, april 07, 2008

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

I had a very interesting interview today. Actually two interviews, or maybe it was just one interview in two parts, I'm not entirely sure. It was a follow-up to the one I did back in February.

It was very surreal in some ways. For one thing, my current gravid condition cannot be hidden in any way. It's my most salient feature. By Danish law, the interviewer is not allowed to notice this, however. And I'm under no obligation to mention it. It's sort of the invisible elephant. For another thing, though I was qualified for the job as it was discussed in the ad (it was worded in a very general way), and while I think I would be able to do the job (assuming an extreme learning curve), the tasks on the job have absolutely zero connection with anything I've ever done in my entire life.

So, I'm still confused. The main thing that stuck in my mind is the article I looked at, in the magazine that was in the interview room, on the role of culture in business. I was skimming more than reading (I had only a few short minutes in between interview parts), so the main thing that I brought from it was a simple sub-heading, 'culture eats strategy for breakfast'. Just like so much of the rest of the whole experience, it sounds really good, but means essentially nothing.

It's been in my head, off and on, since. What is the connection between culture and strategy? Of course culture is important, but is it so very important? Because this multi-national company I was interviewing at is known for its extreme corporate culture.* Would this not eat local culture for breakfast, to some extent?

And what about my culture? I went into the interview with the same attitude that I had in the first one, namely that it was all about having fun with it, and getting the experience. In retrospect, that seems a very Californian approach. A sort of 'we are the center of the universe, so let's go out and sell our worth.'

And that's where my brain starts to fizzle out. So many questions, such a lack of time to ponder them. So, what do you think? Does culture eat strategy for breakfast? Or can the two not sit down at a breakfast meeting together, and discuss business?

*I realize that any of you with any knowledge of the job market in Denmark has just figured out the company in question. Please don't ask, because I won't confirm it. But you're probably right.

*Photo credit, http://www.tamarackwv.com/food_services/breakfast_menu.aspx. It's the kind of breakfast that I'd imagine culture and strategy enjoying together.*

7 kommentarer:

Devil Mood sagde ...

To be honest I have no idea. I have no idea about businesses nor strategies.

But I'd say yes, for some reason. Picture China and its blooming economy. Their cultural background (exploiting workers) is helping the economical strategy. I don't think strategy can eat culture for breakfast, no, that's not happening.

kimananda sagde ...

I don't know either. Your example makes sense though. But I don't know. It's just an interesting quote.

jdbauer sagde ...

Pregnancy Interview Theory: They have to interview a certain number of pregnant women. I exclude pregnant men, not to be sexist, but merely to be realistic. It's like prenatal affirmative action.

Cultural breakfast burrito Theory A: Like many Danish prints on clothing and art work it doesn't mean anything and it just sounded good to the writer. It sounded brainy and hip, but like much of Danish Design - the form is sexier than the function. Like the fancy salad spoons my wife bought with a hole on one of them. So when you grab salad you loose the olives and cherry tomatoes and such things through the hole. They're beautiful, but function like behind without a hole. Ew! Sorry.

Theory B: Something like ... if corporate strategy devours culture or obliterates sovereignty of human value and tradition than their company does the opposite, in which strategy is 100 % reliant on any given culture. More about people than business!?!

I know nothing of the type of company it is though.

wicked sure sagde ...

Hmm... I wonder. Could the company you're talking about be... ;) Culture eating strategy for breakfast. How ridiculous. I hope you read this in some random magazine article and not in an official company propoganda publication, though I suspect that's exactly where you found it. And I would say it seems to me to be the case that corporate culture tends to eat local culture for breakfast (which in the world of business might in some cases actually be a very good thing because otherwise I sincerely doubt anything would ever get done in Benin, ever.)co

kimananda sagde ...

Jonathan, I like your pregnancy interview theory! The question is, do they ever hire the pregnant woman, or just show off that they are interviewing us? Now that I think about it though, when I was waiting for the interviewer in the lobby, I saw loads of men wandering around in identical black suits, but almost no women. So maybe the answer is no. And I like your cultural breakfast theory B, but suspect that theory A is a bit closer to the truth....

KB, I know that you know the company in question. I'm really getting quite fascinated with their corporate culture, actually, as it is so opposite to my perception of Danish business culture more generally. And it wasn't in an official company publication...there were a couple of very random magazines in the interviewing room. It was called something like 'International Strategy'

Greg Mills sagde ...

Culture orders the ham and eggs, while Strategy gets something light -- a muffin or a yogurt and sort of drops that, yes, I am eating light because I am about fuel.

Culture gets a large OJ and a coffee, and has brought the paper. Strategy is having grapefruit juice and ask the server if they have wheatgrass. They don't.

Culture meanders during the conversation, talking about a dog seen during the morning commute, more of a stroll really, with Strategy tapping the deck they were scheduled to review.

Culture then talks about the weird sound rain drop make on the garage roof "Dwooop! Dwooop!"

The smell of Ham and Eggs is getting to Strategy. Strategy reads this first as annoyance, but then the concrete grumbling of Strategy's abstract stomach makes it clear that Strategy is goddamn hungry. Strategy looks on the yogurt and muffin and suffers in silence, though a small voice argues that that niggling desperation for protein is really the thrashing of dignity and discipline.

Strategy is an ass.

kimananda sagde ...

Greg, you give great comment. I'm entranced. It's both funny and true to life at the same time. If I could, I'd give you a hug of thanks. This is actually a threat, as I have the belly area of a sumo wrestler at the moment.