Building a Culture That Encourages Strategic Thinking

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Building a Culture That Encourages Strategic Thinking
Ellen F. Goldman1 and Andrea Casey1

Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 17(2) 119–128 © Baker College 2010 Reprints and permission: http://www. sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1548051810369677 http://jlos.sagepub.com

Abstract The ability to think strategically is critical for leaders and managers at multiple organizational levels. Specific work experiences can contribute to the development of an individual’s strategic thinking ability. Culture, among other organizational factors, can either encourage or limit those contributions. Leaders, as culture constructors and transformers, can act to maximize the relationship between organizational culture and the process of learning to think strategically. A cadre of formal training, developmental activities, and self-directed learning initiatives can provide leaders with the skills to enhance the strategic thinking of those they lead. Keywords strategic thinking, management learning, leadership development, organizational culture

“Culture eats strategy for lunch.” This management truism is linked to examples of how strategy failed, acknowledging that actions attempted were inconsistent with the organization’s values, beliefs, and assumptions (Weeks, 2006). The strategy-eating potential of culture has been used as the basis for recommending that leaders initiate large-scale change efforts to align culture with strategy. However, it has long been recognized that culture can also severely restrict the strategy selected to begin with, because of the myopia of shared beliefs among decision makers regarding the organization’s goals, competencies, and environment (Lorsch, 1985). Moreover, shared assumptions about the organization’s core mission can limit not only the strategy but also the vision (Schein, 2004). Thus, one of the…...

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