Getting to Clarity: Unpacking the role of culture and identity in strategy with Cathy Cha

Getting to Clarity with Cathy Cha: Unpacking the role of culture and identity in strategy with Cathy Cha
November 8, 2021

As we support clients on their strategy development journeys, we often refer to the quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” (inspired by Peter Drucker, an influential figure in business management). One year after our engagement with Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund came to an end, we received a note from their leader, Cathy Cha, who went even further to say, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

We recently sat down with Cathy to dive deeper into the relationship between culture and strategy. As we reflected on Haas Jr.’s journey, we observed that a strong organizational culture begins with clarity in organizational identity - and that the value of having that clarity cannot be underestimated. So what does it look like to get to a clear identity? What does it take? What impact does it have? We talk about these questions and more in our conversation below.

Screenshot image of Zoom video screen with Lisa, Tony and Aya.
Above: Zoom call with Cathy (left) and TGP


Thank you, Cathy, for taking your time to share your perspective with us. 

Can you provide insight into Haas, Jr.’s strategy development process and approving it as the pandemic was hitting? What was that like? 


What was most challenging for your team?


It sounds like there were two core components to the strategy development process: organizational culture and impact. Can you speak more to that and how you connected the two? 


Let’s dive deeper into organizational identity. How would you define identity and what does getting to clarity of identity look like?


As you were exploring identity, how did you navigate generational differences across the family?


What were some specific exercises or aspects of the process that helped lift these values and definitions up?


Towards the beginning of our conversation, you mentioned how one of the values that emerged from the strategy process, "test and learn," became central to Haas, Jr.'s work. Can you talk more about this?


What are the mindsets, approaches, and habits of mind and action that you need as a leader to be a good tester and learner, and what do you think stands in the way? What's the gravitational force of “planning and implementing” that you have to be mindful of and manage in doing that?


Do you have any final advice for leaders navigating strategy processes?


Learn more about Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund here


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