Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Last year, I attended the AFP Toronto Congress. It was a great event with lots of great breakout sessions and keynotes. At lunch one day, there were three philanthropists on stage talking about why they give. It was terrific. One philanthropist though, Anna P. Lopes, said something that stuck with me. It applies to sponsorship, philanthropy, non-profits and for-profits, and to business and life in general. It really resonated with me.

She said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast every time.”

 I have to agree. It is very important that our organizations have a strategy. As rights holders, we need to have an internal and external strategy. We need to have a strategy to close that small deal or massive naming right. As brands, we need to have a marketing strategy. As a sponsorship consulting agency, we need to have a strategy to differentiate ourselves from the competition, position our strengths, win the business, and deliver on it. Strategy is the key! It is essential.

But Anna was right. Culture is king! In my mind, it overtakes strategy every time. We can have the best strategy in the world, but if the culture of the organization is wrong, we will not be successful. If you are a Christian faith-based organization looking for sponsorships, your culture is important. You do not want a sponsor that opposes your faith or culture. You need to know when cultures clash and when they work well together. If you are a brand that has a hard sell marketing culture and a culture of being aggressive, linking with an organization that is more laid back might not work.

But I take it further. It is beyond the deal. Culture eats strategy for breakfast every time in our own organizations. We may have a great strategy to succeed, all the right numbers, differentiating factors, audience and so on, but if the culture inside our organization is broken, we will not be successful. If the culture is too aggressive or too passive, if it is one of an “ivory tower” of being right, or a sweat shop workload, the odds are our that success will be limited. With high staff turnover, burnout, and lack of internal support for staff, we are doomed. The culture of an organization is not what the CEO, president, ED, department head says it is. It is what we experience every day. We are in the experiential marketing industry and need to understand that culture comes from within. It is not forced from above.

Take a few minutes. Think about the culture of your organization. Is it positive? Is it helpful? Is it nurturing and understanding? If so, stick with it. You are engaged in a culture that will succeed. I encourage you to spread the word and share with me on my blog, post it, or Tweet if you agree that culture eatsstrategy for breakfast… or not!

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.


©2015. All rights reserved.


  1. AMEN! I concur wholeheartedly with your observations.

    • Susan,
      Thanks! It is so important all our organizations understand this. Brent

  2. As an advocate and workshop leader in the field of Positive Psychology (at Work/in Life)…finally I see that some employers/organizations are indeed recognizing the value of building healthy, thriving cultures – and committing to developing them! Culture, indeed,eats strategy for breakfast – every time.

    • Alexis,
      Thanks for the feedback and thoughts.It truly is time and it is good to see it happening… organizations need to understand, identify and develop their culture.It is critical for long term success.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This