Do you wish your organization were performing better? Of course, the answer is yes. And a "yes" answer will be more emphatic from those of you whose organizations are struggling. We all worry about our livelihood. Similar to the "nature versus nurture" question about whether one's genes or environment contributes more to an individual's personality and character, I pose this question: What influences an organization's future performance more - the competence of its current executive management team or the momentum or excess baggage of its culture?

Why am I asking such a profound question? My reason may be a weak excuse, but this specific monthly column on performance management is my 25th column written for DM, marking the beginning of my third year. I recently learned from the DM editors that this column was the most-read on their Web site and ranked No. 1 for 2006. So as a little celebration, I want this column to provide some straight talk to those readers who apparently like my that's-the-way-the-world-works style of writing. I feel I have earned the right to speak candidly and personally with you.

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