Creating Breakthrough Strategies: 4 Steps to Winning

Creating Breakthrough Strategies: 4 Steps to Winning
Dates: May 10 - May 17, 2021
Duration: 6 Days
Category: Strategy
Type: Online

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Program Introduction 

In today’s dynamic world, the old static planning methods no longer work. The key to success is to create an adaptive enterprise capable of generating winning strategies and renewing those strategies as the environment changes.

Creating Breakthrough Strategies: 4 Steps to Winning offers a set of practical tools to achieve this kind of organizational agility. The program introduces you to the Strategic Learning Process, a unique 4-step model which has been battle tested and is being applied successfully by many global companies and not-for-profit organizations to create and implement winning strategies repeatedly over time.

The Strategic Learning Process

Strategic Learning is an insight-to-action process. The four linked action steps move in a cycle (see picture below): 

1) Learn about the external environment and your organization’s own realities 

2) Focus by making choices about where you will compete and how you will win 

3) Align your people and your business system behind your strategy

4) Execute faster and better than your competitors

That takes the firm back to the Learn step, thus creating an ongoing cycle of learning and renewal.

During the program you will benefit from the opportunity to apply your learning to an important personal case with the help and insight of faculty and peers.


You will learn how to apply the market-tested Strategic Learning methodology: the four-step cycle designed to create and sustain winning performance.

During the program, you will be given a workbook of practical tools you can use immediately upon returning to your organization.


  • Learn to conduct a Situation Analysis: a powerful method for creating insights into the external environment and your company’s own realities
  • Improve your ability to foresee change and its implications
  • Create a “Winning Proposition” that differentiates your organization and provides superior value for your customers and shareholders
  • Learn how to win hearts and minds of your people and align your business system behind your strategy
  • Master the golden rules of effective implementation, and leadership of change
  • Understand how to monitor and measure the success of your strategy, and how to apply rapid corrective actions

Who this program is meant for:

This program is designed for executives of all levels responsible for strategic development, with primary responsibility for making the changes necessary to enable effective execution of strategy, or those with P&L responsibility who seek to become more strategic in their thinking.

Program structure

Daily live sessions Monday through Friday and the following Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET.

On the first day, participants will be asked to begin to articulate a personal case which identifies a strategic challenge they are facing. This pressing issue becomes the foundation for the participant’s personal case, which they discuss and address throughout the program by applying the Strategic Learning Process.

Sample Sessions

  • Strategic Learning Overview
  • Winning at insight through your Situation Analysis
  • Making strategic choices and developing your Winning Proposition and Key Priorities
  • Mobilizing the power of organizational alignment
  • Mastering the Golden Rules for Effective Implementation
  • Leading change and renewal
  • How it really works! (Hear from a senior executive on the realities of successful application of the process)

United States, New York

William G. Pietersen, Faculty Director

Professor of the Practice of Management

Faculty Member, Executive Education

Willie Pietersen specializes in strategy and the leadership of change. He is the originator of the Strategic Learning Process which, along with his other methods and ideas, is widely applied in numerous corporations. Over a period of twenty years, Pietersen served as the CEO of multibillion-dollar businesses such as Lever Foods, Seagram USA, Tropicana, and Sterling Winthrop’s Consumer Health Group. He has since served as a teacher and advisor to many global companies, including Aviva, Bausch & Lomb, Boeing, Chubb Corp., Deloitte, DePuy, Ericsson, ExxonMobil, Henry Schein, Inc., Novartis, SAP, and Girl Scouts of the USA.

Pietersen has written several books on strategy, the latest being Strategic Learning: How to Be Smarter Than Your Competition and Turn Key Insights into Competitive Advantage (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). He has also written numerous articles which can be downloaded at www.williepietersen.com.

Pietersen was raised in South Africa and received a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. After practicing law, he embarked on an international business career. In 1998, he was named Professor of the Practice of Management at Columbia Business School.

Peter Meola, Curriculum Specialist

Faculty Member, Executive Education

Peter Meola has held a variety of senior executive roles in several global firms over 25 years, including Unilever, Lehn and Fink, The Seagram Company, Tropicana, Burmah Castrol, and ExxonMobil. Peter was a group executive at BP PLC (British Petroleum) and CEO of their Americas Lubricant Division, where he led a cross-cultural and cross-functional employee base with operations in more than 20 countries. Peter was an executive member of the Global Integration Team and the lead executive in the Americas following BP PLC’s successful acquisition and integration of Burmah Castrol.

Meola has consulted for a number of firms, including Welch’s, ExxonMobil, Johnson & Johnson, Henry Schein, CNA Insurance, IntraLinks, Chubb Insurance, UGI, Riverside Healthcare System, United Nations Federal Credit Union, and many more.

Since joining the Columbia Business School faculty, Meola’s primary areas of focus and passion have been leadership of organizational culture as well as Strategic Learning as a leadership process. He serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of St John’s Riverside Hospital, visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, industry advisor for JPMorgan Chase Primary Insight & Alpha Insights, and founder of Meola Associates LLC, a strategic and organizational development advising and consulting firm.

Partner Benefits

Columbia Benefits Through Mexeen

  • Receive updates on School events and invitations to On-campus events
  • Receive a professional CV writing service
  • Privileged access to Series of Webinars conducted by world Top Professors
  • Join a community of Executives with local context in your market
  • Receive Academic credit and upgrade to a Certificate to achieve an Alumni status.
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