Strategy Development: Why Your Management Team’s Core Beliefs Matter

Strategy development processes emphasize vision, mission, values, strategic goals, key performance indicators and key initiatives. But one of the biggest drivers of strategic success are the core beliefs you and your team hold as your pursue your strategy. Yet most strategy development processes ignore this factor. Even values, which are closely aligned with beliefs, often get the cold shoulder from leaders involved in strategy development.

Ignoring beliefs puts your team at great risk, because it’s our beliefs that direct and  drive our actions. So here are some tips to help you deal with this in a way that gets tangible results:

  1. Start with yourself: What are your core beliefs  in relation to your industry, competitors, your brand, your own ability to lead that brand, etc. Start with “I believe that our industry is heading towards…” – which is a belief statement concerning the future of your industry. Another example of a core belief would be “I believe our main competitors are going to…” – which is a belief statement concerning what your competitors next move(s) will be.  Remember to start each statement with “I believe…”
  2. Share your belief statements with your team: Keep this with your team for now. A one page set of Belief Statements is sufficient to get the ball rolling…keep it simple.
  3. Ask each member of your team to develop their own set of belief statements: Cover at least the areas of
    1. Industry
    2. Competition
    3. Brand
    4. Leadership capacity

Another approach is to organize your Statement of Beliefs around the Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities -Threats (SWOT) categories. Keep in mind that your are not doing a SWOT analysis (though you will need to do one at some point) – you are doing a beliefs analysis. Beliefs, even when informed by facts and data, are invariably more powerful than data.

Beliefs are at the core of your culture, but most remain hidden and unspoken. Part of your role as a leader is to uncover the core beliefs that exist within your leadership team and then to selectively challenge those beliefs that will potentially hold your team back, and to amplify those beliefs that will drive your team forward.

Strategy development processes to succeed need to engage your team in dialogue about beliefs. Beliefs can take a long time to change, and it all starts with awareness, so now is a good time to start.

 

Brian Ward