Breakthrough Imperative: How the Best Managers Get Outstanding Results

Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert

Collins,  March 2008

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Every general manager today -- all the way up to the CEO -- is expected by his or her stakeholders to achieve new breakthroughs in performance -- and fast. Those who don't make visible progress toward that goal within the first year or two will likely find themselves looking for another job. It is precisely because of this growing breakthrough imperative that managers today, whether in corporations or nonprofits, need to get off to a fast start. They don't have time for mistakes or for going back and redoing what they should have done right in the first place.

But, despite the intensity of these pressures, despite the high expectations and short time frames, a number of CEOs and general managers turn in truly exceptional results. How do they meet and exceed the breakthrough imperative? To answer this question, consultants and former managers Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert interviewed more than forty CEOs from both industry and the nonprofit sector, conducted an intensive study of what successful managers do right -- and what some do wrong -- and drew on their own combined fifty-plus years of experience at Bain & Company, where their insights have consistently been found in the pages of the Harvard Business Review. Together they came up with the four straightforward  principles -- deceptively simple yet remarkably powerful -- that everyone must follow to succeed at achieving  breakthrough results:

  1. Costs and prices always decline
  2. Competitive position determines options
  3. Customers and profit tools don't stand still
  4. Simplicity gets results
Although seemingly simplistic, mastering these four laws means mastering the basics of great management -- a foundation on which to build the rest of one's management strategy. Whether you're managing a small work group or a multinational corporation, a single division or an entire nonprofit, The Breakthrough Imperative presents these core laws of business to help you determine where you are, just how far you can go, and how to get there with stellar results.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780061358142 | Publication Date: March 2008

"Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert have taken their decades of managerial and consulting experience to the page. The result is a book that is a must-read for every current or aspiring manager."
--Idris Jala, managing director and CEO, Malaysia Airlines

"The Breakthrough Imperative clearly outlines the fundamentals necessary to survive and thrive in today's fast-moving global economy. The 'four laws' are invaluable for managers who need to make the right strategic decisions to win."
--Steve Pagliuca, managing director, Bain Capital

"The Breakthrough Imperative is a brilliant how-to book for building winning business strategies based on four simple laws and two planning processes. Concise, straightforward, and insightful. Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert have successfully conveyed their decades of consulting experience in a way that is truly accessible. Study it and make it happen in your business!"
--Mike White, vice chairman, PepsiCo

"Managers have less time than ever to make their mark. If you don't hit the ground running, with a clear picture of where your business is now and where you need to take it in the short time you have, failure is guaranteed. Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert's The Breakthrough Imperative gives managers what they need to ensure they break through and excel."
--Warren Knowlton, CEO, Graham Packaging Company

"Based on Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert's intensive research and decades of work with managers of all stripes, The Breakthrough Imperative gives business leaders a comprehensive yet simple way to develop a winning game plan."
--Steve Reinemund, retired chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

"Having spent many years in the trenches with 'best of class' business leaders, Steve Schaubert and Mark Gottfredson speak with authority in The Breakthrough Imperative, a unique book and architecture for how to win in business."
--Fred Rowan, chairman and CEO, Carter's, Inc.

"Required reading for anyone trying to transform a business -- if there is a better road map that informs the leaders and the team on driving change, I haven't seen it."
--Dick Boyce, partner, Texas Pacific Group