Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Peter Drucker? Giga Information Group? Mark Fields? Eli Halliwell? Richard Clark? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Business leaders have found that the pre-existing culture of a company can thwart indispensable changes. A popular cautionary aphorism encapsulates this viewpoint. Here are two versions:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Culture eats strategy for lunch.

The famous management guru Peter Drucker often receives credit for this saying, but I have not found a good citation. This notion can also be expressed less vividly as follows:

Culture constrains strategy.
Culture beats strategy.
Culture trumps strategy.

Would you please examine this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest close match located by QI appeared in the September 2000 issue of the trade journal “PIMA’s North American Papermaker: The Official Publication of the Paper Industry Management Association”. Two paper recycling consultants named Bill Moore and Jerry Rose wrote an article about online transactions that referred to the adage in the concluding paragraph. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The biggest question mark is the interest of the recovered paper industry in moving forward in the e-commerce business. As stated in the March 2000 Giga Information Group headline “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast!” Will the culture of the recovered paper transaction business stymie those using an e-strategy to improve the marketplace? Only time will tell.

The Giga Information Group is a technology consulting firm that was founded by Gideon I. Gartner who also founded the influential Gartner Group. QI has not seen the March 2000 periodical; hence, QI has not seen the initial surrounding context. In addition, the saying may have been in circulation before that date.

Peter Drucker who died in 2005 was not mentioned in the earliest citations found by QI. His name was attached to the saying by 2011.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Notes:

  1. 2000 September, PIMA’s North American Papermaker: The Official Publication of the Paper Industry Management Association, Volume 82, Number 9, Recovered paper trading—ready for the Web? by Bill Moore and Jerry Rose (Moore & Associates, a paper recycling consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia), Start Page 26, Quote Page 28, Column 3, Paper Industry Management Association, Mount Prospect, Illinois. (Verified with hardcopy)