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Creating breakthrough strategy - Step 6 (of 6) and conclusion


Strategic framework step 6 7x4.png

In my first three blogs on creating breakthrough strategy (here, here and here), I discussed how to do a situation analysis, select and prioritize your initiatives, and how to understand the different possible types of investment and their impact. This final installment mentions and suggests a timeline. There is one very important rule: start the implementation planning after you have documented the strategy. This means start step 6 only after completing step 5. Do not combine the work.

It is easy to find blogs and books on program management. The sixth step in creating a breakthrough strategy is to implement it. The step 6 diagram at the top of this article covers common sales, demand-generation and delivery areas that should be included in an implementation plan. In short, these are elements of the five strategic initiatives that you have selected to beat your competitors.

Change management

As mentioned in the first blog in this series, the biggest obstacle to progress will probably wind up being the need to stop existing activities to have enough resources to implement the new work. You will get lots of resistance. This is about change management. The first and most important step is to communicate clearly that the current state is unacceptable. Of course, if you are a large commercial company and have just told your stock market analysts that everything is fantastic, your employees will not believe you when you tell them that everything is terrible. The key to breakthrough is making it a discussion about the competition, and not about yourselves. “Yes, we are doing quite well, but Acme Company is killing us over here. This is how we want to attack them and put them out of business. Keeping doing what we are doing now will not be enough.”

Once it is clear that the current state is unacceptable, people will be far more interested in understanding the future vision you are describing and the practical steps (up to five initiatives) that get you there. Within the five initiatives, it is critical to describe the first practical steps that get each in motion. Communication is something that happens at the receiving end. It is not because you have given a speech or sent out an email that it has happened. It needs to be repetitive and interactive. Bear in mind that in large companies, team members mainly believe what their direct manager tells them. People higher up are less credible. (I am not making this up. There are lots of studies on the subject.)


The diagram below gives a timeline that works well in practice. The relevant business leaders must actually be available, and should not delegate. Experience suggests that the main risk to the quality of the overall plan is the situation analysis. You have to ask new questions to get new answers. If the situation analysis does not manage to ask any new questions and get new answers, it will all be a waste of time.

Strategy timing.png


Ask new questions. Get new answers. Remember the enemy is outside your company, not inside. Win by being either better or different. Both work. While I could wish you the best of luck, I don’t actually believe in luck in business. There is just hard work and good timing. You can control one of the two. Have fun!

Maurice FitzGerald - Customer Experience and Strategy consultant
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About the Author


Maurice FitzGerald ecently retired from his position as VP of Customer Experience for HPE Software after a career in hardware, software and services at DEC, Compaq and HP.

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