Moments in Belief - IMD Business School

Why "Moments of Belief" are pivotal for companies

UK based supermarket group Tesco experienced its first “Moment of Belief” when its then managing director agreed to list the nutritional value of its foods in a decision demonstrating what being customer-led meant in practice.
21 pages
August 2016

So called “Moments of Belief” – strong and unusual moves against the status quo – are pivotal for companies. The public smashing by Haier’s CEO of sub-standard products; Jack Welch’s denial of access to secure facilities by a security officer; the cancelling by Target’s CEO of the classic store visit in favour of an unannounced incognito arrival, all count.

Such moments shape an organisation’s belief system and can perhaps be compared to decisive social, political or religious events in history.

Rather than a single act of an individual, a “Moment of Belief ” is better interpreted as a timely and thoughtful intervention in a fertile context that gains traction for myriad reasons.

Numerous historical examples show similar origins. Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat in a segregated bus; Henri Dunant’s witnessing the horrors of war; King Henry VIII of England’s refusal to recognise papal authority and self-declaration as Supreme Head of his country’s church; and the Bolshevik overthrow of Russia’s provisional government creating the future Soviet Union; all count.

Invariably, the status quo was unsatisfactory for many and there was a legitimacy of alternatives. Conditioning made each protagonist act in the “Moment”. The “Moments” were easily identifiable and unambiguous and each had highly significant consequences.

But monocausal attribution of “Moments of Belief” should be treated cautiously when it comes to comparisons. Business writers should ensure they examine antecedents, and the sequence of enabling factors to illustrate what causes lasting change in belief systems.

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