How to Create Cultural and Strategic Alignment

"No matter how great a strategy is, if an organization’s culture is not aligned with and supportive of that strategy, the strategy will either halt or fail"

HBR Article stated: “Strategy and culture are among the primary levers at top leaders’ disposal in their never-ending quest to maintain organizational viability and effectiveness.” What is the correlation between strategic alignment and cultural alignment? Why are both so important?

Let’s first break down strategy and culture. There are very simple definitions for both:

  1. Strategy is rational and logical. It is transparent and straightforward.
  2. Culture, on the other hand, derives from human emotions. It’s as vulnerable as the people who define it. It’s the specific collection of principles and standards that are shared by people and groups in an organization.

Strategy is about intent and ingenuity, while culture determines and measures engagement, and execution. Both strategy and culture are very important. Without a clear strategy, an organization is lost. But, some businesses tend to forget about the importance of culture and put strategy first. They think culture takes care of itself, but that’s not the case. No matter how great a strategy is, if an organization’s culture is not aligned with and supportive of that strategy, the strategy will either halt or fail.

Alignment of both strategy and culture is so important because innovation derives from the existence of this vital alignment. If the company’s strategies are clear, culture fills in the gaps and pushes initiatives towards innovative success.

How do you mobilize an organization around a strategic goal or vision? How has this become more challenging in remote workforces?

There are two main factors:

  1. Vision. Creating or having a vision that motivates and rallies a group of people to take collective action. This is pretty basic when it comes to creating a strategic goal.
  2. Communication. Open, transparent, and effective communication – sometimes over-communication – is the key to leading an organization towards a strategic goal or vision.

More recently, leaders have realized the benefits of collaborative strategic planning. In-office, off-site, or a blend of both on- and off-site strategy workshops are an effective approach to creating a collaborative environment.

Executing on a collaborative approach does become challenging in remote environments. Humans, by nature, thrive off human and social interactions. So, it’s no surprise that remote work has dampened the collaborative approach typically seen in board rooms or off-site venues.

But, as we continue working remotely, effective and frequent communication becomes even more important and is one of the key factors that will bridge this divide.

How do you create and strengthen cultural alignment across teams?

Having a shared set of cultural values that are socialized and reinforced across the organization can amplify the direction corporate culture takes. While it’s great to have a list of cultural values, it’s also very important – even more so for remote teams – to document, communicate and act upon that culture and the behaviours associated with the cultural values.

Cultural expectations should be clear – how performance is measured, how employees are assessed for cultural fit, etc. As companies grow, culture should be constantly reassessed by encouraging open, honest, and direct communication and feedback. That in itself will strengthen cultural alignment. Because the more involvement there is from varying roles of an organization, the more alignment there will be around culture.

What are some key trends or innovations emerging in this space? What are the key takeaways leaders need to know?

As someone once said, culture eats strategy for breakfast. Culture is a shared, group phenomenon and it cannot exist solely within a single person or a single department. It lives in shared behaviours and values across everyone in an organization. As organizations grow and try to drive deeper cultural alignment, it has become increasingly essential to shed light on how culture has seeped into day-to-day operations.

Modern technology (such as 7Geese) allows for this kind of recognition – where one employee can acknowledge another for embodying a cultural value, giving the entire organization visibility towards positive reinforcement of an organization’s core values, and as a result, increasing employee happiness.
It’s also never too soon to give recognition to your employees or your team. Similar to classical conditioning, positive behaviour recognition encourages similar behaviour by one or more employees. It’s as simple as a quick shout-out through Slack channels, Google group chats or at the front-end of team meetings/huddles.

Get to Know Nisha Birdi

Tell me a little about your career path. What made you get into consulting?

“Very early on in my career, I worked at a consulting firm as an executive’s assistant and project coordinator. I was immediately exposed to some of the smartest people and to industries I didn’t even know existed. It was eye-opening and the growth potential was addictive.

“During this experience, I had the opportunity to work with a key-note facilitator – Debbie Matters from Your Communication Matters. Debbie designed, developed, and delivered training and development seminars focused on enhancing communication, effectiveness and relationship building.

“During our time together, she saw this 24-year-old girl, trying to navigate through her first professional corporate experience. Inadvertently, Debbie became my mentor. I was naturally drawn toward her work ethic, grit, and genuine passion for what she did. She had a way of making me feel empowered. In fact, one of our last conversations was her telling me that I had it in me to become a consultant. She influenced my career trajectory in the most positive way and, about 6 years later, here I am – Management Consultant at The Poirier Group.”


What is something you are passionate about outside of your job role?

“Food! I love making new recipes and putting my own spin on them. And as much as I love trying to make new recipes, I love coming across unique and authentic mom-and-pop restaurants! We’ve always been conscious of supporting small businesses and even more-so during COVID. Most recently, I’ve been obsessed with “Grandma Loves You”, in Toronto. If you haven’t tried it, I’d recommend Grandma’s Special Pizza Sandwich.”


What drew you to TPG and why do you like working here?

“The people. It really is a family here at The Poirier Group and I felt that right away. I can rely on TPG being understanding and supportive, all while pushing me to become the best version of myself. This kind of environment doesn’t come easily. TPG has set the standard for an inclusive and diverse culture, and I’m honoured to be a part of this amazing group.”