Culture and strategy – you can’t have one without the other


Culture is all well and good. But give me strategy too.

That’s the very clear message from Chris Quin, Chief Executive of Foodstuffs North Island, who recently spoke to our clients in Christchurch. Before joining Foodstuffs in 2015, Chris was CEO of Spark Home, Mobile and Business and led the business through the very successful re-brand from Telecom to Spark. He is also chairman of business incubator The Icehouse. Chris says culture is a crucial part of business but it has to be backed up by strategy. They go hand-in-hand.

“There’s lots of talk about culture and strategy and which is the most important.” Chris’s view is “You simply can’t choose between them. Strategy directs performance, culture drives performance.” We couldn’t have put it more succinctly! Several people who attended told us how strongly Chris’s resonated for them.

“You can’t just assume that as long as people are happy in their work, having a good time, and celebrating success, it’ll all work out.”

Chris says that in his experience, true engagement comes when people are doing meaningful work and in his view that’s when it’s meaningful to them but also when they can see direction and commercial reality in the outcome of their efforts.

“That’s culture and strategy working together. You need both. The good times actually don’t make people feel good if they can sense that it’s hollow or inauthentic.”

In the end, everyone needs three things, Chris believes.

What does good look like in my job?
How am I going right now?
What is next for me?

“Whatever your job, that’s what you need – whether you’re a chief executive or a check out operator. Everyone deserves those three things.”


Our thanks to Chris Quin for allowing us to use excerpts from his talk in this blog. We’ll share more of his observations next time.


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