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Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking

ISBN: 978-1-118-59646-3
192 pages
March 2014
Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking (1118596463) cover image


According to a study published in Chief Executive Magazine, the most valued skill in leaders today is strategic thinking. However, more than half of all companies say that strategic thinking is the skill their senior leaders most need to improve. Elevate provides leaders with a framework and toolkit for developing advanced strategic thinking capabilities. Unlike the majority of books that focus on strategy from a corporate perspective, Elevate gives the individual executive practical tools and techniques to help them become a truly strategic leader. The new framework that will enable leaders to finally integrate both strategy and innovation into a strategic approach that drives their profitable growth is the Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking:

1. Coalesce: Fusing together insights to create an innovative business model.

2. Compete: Creating a system of strategy to achieve competitive advantage.

3. Champion: Leading others to think and act strategically to execute strategy.

Every leader desperately wants to be strategic--their career depends on it. Elevate provides the roadmap to reach the strategic leadership summit.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Elevate 1

Importance of Strategy 3

Top 10 Strategy Challenges 5

GOST Framework 12

Strategy Defined 14

Thinking Strategically 16

1,000-Foot View 21

Discipline #1: Coalesce 23

Patterns in Strategy 26

Systems 32

Platforms 34

Business Model 39

Phase I of the Business Model: Value Creation 40

Phase II of the Business Model: Value Delivery 44

Phase III of the Business Model: Value Capture 48

Profitable Growth 52

Strategy and Innovation 58

Types of Innovation 59

1,000-Foot View 67

Discipline #2: Compete 69

Competitive Condition 73

Leader 73

Challenger 76

Spectator 82

Competitive Advantage 84

Competitive Intelligence 88

Trade-off Zone 91

Indirect Competition 94

Intangible Competition 97

1,000-Foot View 102

Discipline #3: Champion 103

Using Time Strategically 106

Time Trade-Off Techniques 109

Influencing Strategy Commitment 112

Increasing Buy-In with Social Proof 115

Strategic Behavior 119

Practicing Strategic Thinking 122

Developing Strategy Habits 129

Strategy Conversations 134

The Power of Story 138

Creating a Strategy Story 141

1,000-Foot View 145

Conclusion 147

When to Change Strategy 147

Fire Prevention 149

Tactical Evaluation Matrix 151

Strategy Launch Review 153

Strategy Scaffold 155

Strategic I Am 157

1,000-Foot View 160

Notes 163

Index 173

Acknowledgments 181

About the Author 183

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Author Information

RICH HORWATH is the CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute and a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author on strategy. He is a former Chief Strategy Officer and professor of strategy and has appeared on ABC, NBC and FOX TV. Horwath has helped more than 50,000 managers around the world develop their strategic thinking skills and is consistently ranked the #1 speaker on strategy & innovation at national conferences.

For More information, visit strategyskills.com.

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Press Release

April 01, 2014
Elevate: The Three Disciplines Of Advanced Strategic Thinking

What should a company do when profits are declining or losses are mounting, employee morale and retention is low, and competitors are thriving while you are stagnating?

Companies look to make changes when in a crisis – but sometimes it can be too little, too late. Often a company struggles because it is failing to create new value for customers and offers little differentiation from the competition. So why don’t companies give more resources to strategic innovation? Many executives have given strategic thinking expert Rich Horwath these answers:

“We’re reactive, tactical, and constantly fighting fires.”
“We don’t have the time or tools to think strategically.”
“We don’t have a consistent understanding of strategy.”

Recent studies on leadership by the Wall Street Journal and Chief Executive Magazine have found that the #1 ranked, most valued skill in leaders today is strategic thinking.  But only 3 out of 10 managers are strategic.  Horwath, CEO of Strategic Thinking Institute, helps business people at all levels understand what strategy is and how to think strategically in order to profitably grow their business.  The result is that readers of his new book, Elevate:  The Three Disciplines Of Advanced Strategic Thinking (Wiley), will discover a framework to think strategically on a daily basis and gain practical tools to reach their true strategic potential.


Horwath, with original research and experience in training over 50,000 managers, shares the following:


  • How a lack of strategic thinking – and why a lack of training in strategy – dooms companies.
  • A proven framework for inspiring leaders to think more strategically
  • When an organization should change its strategy.
  • Techniques for leaders to fuse strategy and innovation into competitive advantage
  • Three ways to improve strategic time management.
  • How leaders gain buy-in from others to commit to a strategy.
  • Why strategy should be an ongoing conversation.
  • How executives can truly “elevate” their strategic thinking


Horwath knows what managers need to do when it comes to developing and implementing strategy.  This New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author has helped more than 50,000 managers around the world develop their strategic thinking skills.  Horwath has worked with managers at leading organizations such as Google, Intel, FedEx, Novartis, Kraft, Sanofi, and Emerson, to name a few. 

Recognized as a thought leader on strategic thinking, Horwath takes an elevated look at how companies use strategy. He makes the analogy of a leader’s ability to elevate their thinking out of the tactical weeds with the agility of a helicopter to precisely ascend, descend and hover. A helicopter’s 1,000 foot-view provides enough elevation to see the big picture while still capturing the important specifics of the business not visible from an airplane’s 30,000-foot view.

“Too often,” says Horwath “strategy and innovation are approached separately, even though they share the common foundation of insight.  By becoming a more effective strategic thinker, a leader’s better prepared to drive strategy and innovation together.”

Horwath’s sixth book presents three advanced disciplines to improve the implementation of strategic thinking throughout an organization. These disciplines provide executives with a concise new framework to think about how to grow their business profitability:

  • Coalesce: Fusing together insights to create an innovative business model.
  • Compete: Creating a system of strategy to achieve a great competitive advantage.
  • Champion: Leading others to think and act strategically to execute strategy.

Elevate puts forth many proven techniques for leaders to grain insight into achieving greater strategic thinking. “Excellence is defined as a deviation from the norm, ” says Horwath. “If you are not thinking and acting differently than other companies and other leaders in your industry, you will never excel.  Great strategic thinking creates different and unique value for customers. Elevate shows executives how to combine strategy and innovation to form a truly competitive advantage.”

Elevate clearly shows leaders and managers how to:

  • Define goals, objectives, strategy and tactics for growth.
  • Combine strategy and innovation for competitive advantage.
  • Develop a real-world strategy toolkit to create differentiation.
  • Identify a competitor’s strategy.
  • Effectively communicate strategy and have a strategy conversation.
  • Overcome the 10 strategy challenges managers face.
  • Implement a “strategy scaffold” to build, adjust, and communicate the foundational elements of the business, including purpose, business, model, and plan.
  • Put a “strategy spectrum” in place in order to create new value for customers that can stimulate profitable growth.
  • Use a Value Mining Matrix to discover new areas for business growth

Strategic thinking is Horwath’s passion. “Fifteen years ago during a strategic planning session, a mid-level manager approached me at the break and said during his performance review his boss said he was too tactical and needed to be more strategic,” says Horwath. “He asked, ‘How do I become more strategic?’ While there are hundreds of books on corporate strategy, none provided a roadmap for individual managers to transform from tactical to strategic thinkers. I decided to dedicate my career to helping managers learn to think and act strategically.”

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