Case Analysis-Aligning Culture and Strategy


The approach of aligning an organization’s culture with its strategies contributes greatly to the organization’s success. In the process of culture strategy alignment, most organizations are involved in launching new values, deploying leadership road shows and designing unique reinforcing communications (Volk & Zerfass, 2018). The organizations require to concentrate on the culture that goes beyond the generic notions of high performance and to focus on the elements of the culture that are relevant to the organizations’ specific strategic goals (Chow & Liu, 2009). Moreover, focusing on the underlying processes, systems, and behavior in order to support the long-term culture change is also very important for the organizations’ success. This essay aims at analyzing the case at A.P Nichols to illustrate how an institution’s structure contribute to the development of its strategies and to identify how the needed changes in the organization’s structure would support the changes in its strategies.

Change is an important aspect within the organization because it assists the organizational management in effectively advancing and improving its processes to ensure high performance. As indicated by the chief executive officer of the A.P Nichols known as Roger Dufour, change help organizations to adjust their strategies to avoid being left behind by their competitors. The goal of A.P Nichols industry that dealt with supplies such as the abrasives supplies was to be ranked among the top 10 distributors in the United States. To achieve this goal, the C.E.O had to come up with a plan to ensure that there was a balance between its structure and the strategies to be implemented. In this regard, their goal would have been accomplished by rebuilding the sales department of the industry in order to fit its newly established strategies.

To ensure that the organization’s strategies and culture align, the leadership within the organization must be reliable and have the capability of embodying the organization’s culture in order to lead it towards its strategic goals (Darling, 2017). An effective leadership helps in setting the tone for the strategy and culture of the institution whereby the strengths and the weaknesses are well outlined as policies are developed on how to go about the development. The leadership of the A.P Nichols was well established but was faced by numerous challenges. Therefore, forming a strong leadership and efficient collaboration of the CSR team would make it easy for the organization to develop a coherent ability for establishing the strategy and executing it intensely. However, the CSR leadership had identified the managers and the role that they were to play when implementing the strategies and the advancing the company’s structure to achieve its objectives. For the goal of the A.P Nichols to be implemented, the leaders needed to be credible enough and become talent breeders. This was to ensure that they focused on the firm’s strategy fully and that they remained consistent with the organizational values.

The other concept that the organizations need to ensure in order for the organization’s structure to align with its culture is gaining a realistic view of the entire organization. Just like how the assessment of the organizational leadership is necessary for effective alignment of the company’s culture and strategy, the leaders need to initiate the assessment of the organizational maturity. Individuals within the organization must carry out an evaluation to acknowledge where the company stands and understand its current state. This helps in revealing the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. Moreover, the management is able to have a view of what the organization can realistically handle and allow the staff to build the company’s plan around that knowledge. In Nichols’ case, the management in Nichols tried to understand the entire organization before implementing its plans. The most significant things that the management understood about the Nichols industry was that its reputation was escalating based on the record of service offered and customer satisfaction. The other significant thing that individuals noted about the organization was that the strengthening of the ISA team would result in the enhancement of the CSRs (Gandz, 2011). If the approach of the integrated sales would be implemented, it would be necessary to ensure that the sales agents were jointly aligned and working together to accomplish the collective goal of growing the total business, which would be in the best interest for the clients and the owners of Nichols organization.

Proper funding of the Nichols would assist it in implementing a best-in-class field system whereby the development of national offices would be supported as well as the infrastructure to help the CSRs in focusing on the customers’ needs. In this regard, the clients would be given the best level of services and would be offered quality assistance to meet their desires. Therefore, the Nichols’ management would find it logical to include even the relative smallness of the CSR as it could be positioned as an advantage since it is often called to contribute in the consortium of distributors for main infrastructure projects including the large-scale city redevelopment (Gandz, 2011). Thus, understanding and gaining the entire view of the organization would help in knowing the specific areas that of the company that would require improvements to bring changes in the organization’s structure and support the organization’s strategies.

To identify the changes that are required in the organization’s structure, the organization is expected to plan ahead where it desires to get in terms of its ultimate goals and objectives. The planning is initiated by developing the strategies that will be used in guiding the organization in reaching its aim. In this perspective, allocating adequate time for developing the organization’s priorities, accountability, themes, and processes is necessary in order to boost the management of the priorities. When the strategies are developed, they should be tested to ensure that they are capable of contributing to the success of the organization (Tosti, 2007). The testing should be directed to ensure that the set strategies are suited to the real-life situations and that they are realistic. For instance, in case an institution’s strategy is focused on the innovation, the plan should be based on differentiating the company from its competitors, which can be ensured by producing unique and quality products. Additionally, the plan can be based on providing the services that the competitors do not offer in order to attract more customers into the business (Muafi, 2009). When the strategic plan is already identified, the organizational management is required to adopt a culture that supports the established strategic plan. For example, the culture that the company can adopt in order to support innovation entails the one that emphasizes the diversity of thought and opinion whereby risk-taking is supported.  

Managing and sustaining the organization’s progress is very important as it contributes along towards the culture strategy alignment. Ideally, the employers and the employees need to make plans on the approaches of keeping the strategies afloat and adjust its culture accordingly. Most importantly, a follow through the need to be done to ensure that all the policies that lead to the dream realization are well implemented (Morgan, Malek & Levitt, 2008). In this regard, the organizational management requires to keep track of performance management, and how the communications, personnel, and resources are integrated to help the institution accomplish its goals. In the case of A.P Nichols industry, the CSRs lacked clear communications on how the business would be. When a sales meeting was scheduled to take place on August 25 at the local Hyatt hotel, the plans were to initiate a discussion of unveiling Nichols’ new sales strategy. This discussion had been planned by Klein but Nichols had other plans of meeting privately with the top producers to have a discussion on how to shift from the 70/30 model to another operating model. This would be a 50/50 revenue split, whereby Nichols would be involved in increasing the share for building infrastructure and supporting customer service activities. Moreover, the processes would be complicated because the top producers had earlier had the 70/30 compensation model, which had been revealed during a preceding restructuring (Gandz, 2011). These producers were the most experienced and highly paid individuals. To make the proceedings worse, the CSRs were transitioned into a corporate model. Idyllically, based on all these plans and transformations, Klein knew that some of the bodies such as some CSRs would be unhappy with these changes. Thus, Klein took time to advise the CSRs to consider the future opportunities and create an effective firm in the industry. Organizations need to compare where they are to the baseline and the goals to see how they measure up to the structure culture alignment, which is necessary for goal accomplishment.

Organizations have the responsibility of developing their strategies and cultures. This means that individuals within the company should create the organizations that they want through a clearly defined culture and solid strategies for reaching the goals. A lot of cooperation should be utilized between the superior employees and the lowly ranked employees to enhance the achievement of the organization’s goals. The strategy/culture alignment should be measured using aspects such as efficiency, customer service, quality, innovation and reputation or brand (Hatch & Schultz, 2008). This can be accomplished through ensuring that there are precise job roles, disciplined workload allocation, empowerment to improve processes, consistently recognizing new ideas, leadership clarity on future priorities, strong customer orientation, and ensuring that the clients have a strong belief in the products that are produced.


In summary, strategy/culture alignment is a significant aspect that helps to ensure that the organization’s ambitions and goals are accomplished. Initiating an effective strategy that would contribute to the organization’s success would mean the adjustment of the organization’s culture to boost the success process. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that realistic plans are established and that future priorities are well-outlined. Additionally, identifying the changes that are required in the organization’s structure assist in improving the strategy and culture of the organization. The changes that should be ensured within the organizations include strengthening communications techniques, enhancing customer service, improving the brand of the product to be more appealing as compared to those of the competitors and emphasizing teamwork to focus on long-term development.