Strategic Development With Values in Mind

The world of strategy and leadership is changing due to a shift in the deep values of society (Cowan, & Todorovic, 2000). This is of great importance because despite brilliant economic and market analysis of a strategy, people are the ones who must understand and implement strategy, which only happens when strategy fits their values (Cowan & Todorovic, 2000). Leaders must keep values in mind in order to effectively develop and implement strategy, and results are best realized when leaders have an articulate set of values and understand those of employees and the organization (Ulrich et al., 1999). Leaders without a clear sense of values are rudderless and constantly shift from goal to goal (Ulrich et al., 1999).

Collins and Porras insist “core values are the organization’s essential and enduring tenants… requiring no external justification possessing intrinsic value and importance to those inside the organization (Collins & Porras, 2004). Values are like organizational flywheels that are hard to stop and difficult to turn (Cowan and Todorovic, 2000), and when leaders do not effectively identify values they can be caught by their momentum and find their strategy implementation being hijacked.

Organizational leaders should engage in regular value assessments to gain a clear understanding of the values deeply embedded in their employees and their organization. Spiral dynamics is a field of study focusing on the emergence and patterns of deep values that mold strategic leaders’ worldviews, form corporate mindsets, structure leader/follower relationships, establish decision structures, and define reality (Beck & Cowan, 2006). Strategic leaders should be led by principles appropriate to the deep values already present and emerging (Cowan & Todorovic, 2000) in order to stay on track with the given mission.

The very essence of human nature is changing rapidly and deep values are the bedrock of future conceptions what life is about (Cowan & Todorovic, 2000).


Beck, D. E., & Cowan, C. C. (2006). Spiral dynamics: mastering values, leadership, and change ; exploring the new science of memetics (Paperback [ed.]). Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.

Collins, J. C., & Porras, J. I. (2004). Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies. New York, NY: Harper Business.

Cowan, C. C., & Todorovic, N. (2000). Spiral dynamics:: the layers of human values in strategy. Strategy & Leadership, 28(1), 4–12.

Ulrich, D., Zenger, J. H., & Smallwood, W. N. (1999). Results-based leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

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