Lou Gerstner has this wonderful passage in his book that says something to the effect of, “When I came to IBM I was a guy who believed in strategy and analysis. What I learned was that corporate culture is not part of the game: It is the game.”1
You know, I was a San Francisco 49ers fan, and their great coach Bill Walsh said the same thing. In 1979, he inherited a team that had won 2 games and lost 14 the previous season. His entire first year was teaching football players how to wear coats and ties on buses. And he said, “The key is to become a professional organization.” On the one hand, coats and ties may be a formality, but Walsh said, “You’ve got to do the corporate culture first.” Two years later, he won the Super Bowl.