Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Breakout Strategy Process


The Need for Creative Strategic Thinking

The Breakout Strategy Process is a facilitated set of activities that bring key people together to generate creative, forward-thinking strategic ideas and develop them into practical strategic initiatives. This process has produced outstanding results for Boards, top management teams, strategic alliances, and cross-functional strategy-development teams.

Although relevant studies and the opinions of important stakeholders and outside experts are often included, the Breakout Strategy Process ultimately relies upon the collective insight and foresight of key people within the organization. One significant advantage of this type of process is the fact that it forges strong strategic alignment among key organizational decision-makers.

How Does the Breakout Strategy Process Work?

The Breakout Strategy Process is always custom-designed during a scoping phase, where project sponsorship is clarified and the objectives and scope of the project are clarified. The rest of the project usually includes the following three phases:

  • Clarify the context
  • Create shared vision
  • Develop breakout strategies
  • Implement strategies

Clarify The Context

Breakout Strategy projects always include some clarification of the organization’s emerging/future business environment. During this phase, any of the following steps can be used, depending on the client organization’s unique strategic planning needs:

  • Identify the most relevant trends in your organization’s emerging/future environment
  • Identify customers, competitors, and key stakeholders; their needs and likely actions; and the potential threats and opportunities for your business
  • Develop alternative future scenarios
  • Conduct focus groups with customers and sometimes other key stakeholders, or involve them in some other way

Create Shared Vision

This step is optional, depending on the degree to which the organization has already clarified its mission/purpose and its operating values. To the extent that additional work is needed in these areas, appropriate modules on creating shared vision are incorporated into the process.

Develop Breakout Strategies

This is the phase where smart, creative strategies are developed. Using relevant information from the previous phases, the necessary broad criteria for breakout strategy ideas are clarified. The following three steps then frequently follow:

  • Using a variety of creative thinking methods, a wide range of possible strategy ideas are generated.
  • These “raw” strategy ideas are clustered into strategic opportunity areas. Then, using both analytical and creative thinking methods, the ideas within each opportunity area are developed into the strongest possible strategic options for that area. (If future scenarios are being used, part of this step is the development of strategies that will be viable across a range of possible scenarios). It is in the process of building up these strategic options before final evaluation and prioritization that breakthrough strategies emerge.
  • Tentative decisions are made about the best strategies to pursue, and these strategies are “fleshed out” to the degree needed to develop viable strategic initiatives. (Occasionally, clients insert a “testing” step here, for example, using focus groups to test and refine strategy ideas). Then final decisions are made to commit resources.

Implement Strategies

Some projects end when clearly-defined strategies have been developed. Others include work on strategy implementation, which can take several forms:

  • When strategy implementation requires significant organizational change, as it often does, another powerful service called the Fast-Track Change Process provides a very effective method for generating high commitment to the strategy and getting it implemented quickly.
  • We may be called upon to facilitate one or more management teams or strategic task-forces charged with translating strategy into action.

Work on strategy implementation may also include one or more of the following services:

  • Practicing visionary leadership: Building and sustaining commitment (coaching)
  • Developing a strongly aligned leadership team (team-building)
  • Communicating and managing organizational change (consulting)

Client Stories

Examples of how clients have used the Breakout Strategy Process:

If you have any questions about the Breakout Strategy Process, please contact us.