Innovations That Inspire

The Strategic Breakthrough Triangle

Recognition Year(s): 2018
School: Institute of Business Studies, RANEPA
Location: Russia

Innovation Statement

An innovative training program for executives of leading industrial companies, the Strategic Breakthrough Triangle is aimed at developing strategic thinking, project work skills, and acquiring startup evaluation techniques.

Call to Action

A majority of big industrial companies that have been in existence since the middle of the 20th-century operate in an oligopolistic environment and are characterized by a high level of bureaucracy. These factors slow down the management decision-making process and hinder innovation. The situation in Russia is further complicated by cultural tradition—a high power distance, which is around 90 percent, according to the Geert Hofstede scale.

Organizational diagnostics, carried out by IBS RANEPA experts in recent years, confirmed this conclusion. The most challenging obstacles that companies need to overcome to increase their competitiveness in the digital economy have been identified as the following:

  • The need to develop strategic thinking, vision, and initiative of middle-level managers.
  • The need to overcome a communication gap between low-level and middle-level management.
  • The need to overcome poor coordination and communication between a company’s functional departments, especially in companies where the place and role of individual departments is not clearly understood.
  • The need to develop commercial marketing thinking in middle managers who often have engineering rather than business or management degrees.
  • The need to overcome fear of innovation, unwillingness to work with more technologically advanced entities, and unwillingess to work with accelerators and startups, all of which slow down the search for and the use of breakthrough inventions in companies.

The main motivation behind the Strategic Breakthrough Triangle program is to help companies overcome these obstacles by offering middle managers of big industrial companies a variety of innovative learning experiences and training.

Innovation Description

The Strategic Breakthrough Triangle was designed by IBS and ROSATOM Corporate University (a state nuclear energy corporation) for retraining 90 ROSATOM managers, preselected for promotion to the top echelon.

It is designed to be a one-year program that will include five four-day modules and team project work (led by professional mentors) between the modules. The program has three phases that form imaginary sides of the Strategic Breakthrough Triangle.

The first phase, or side, includes the following goals and objectives:

  • Goal: Develop a “think big” strategic vision.
  • Provide the ability to look at company management from outside the system.
  • Benchmark the company’s competitiveness at national and global markets.
  • Develop soft skills for managers with engineering and technical background.

The second phase, or side, has the following goals and objectives:

  • Goal: Develop project-work skills in teams of people with different backgrounds, creating a synergy of expertise.
  • Introduce an agile scrum project management approach.
  • Teach stage-by-stage project development, from the proposal defense to the ROSATOM deputy CEO to the project implementation.
  • Train people with an engineering mindset how to present and sell project results through pitch sessions at “gemba.”

The third and final phase, or side, has the following goals and objectives:

  • Goal: Develop entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial skills in managers from high-power distance corporate culture.
  • Develop an understanding of the importance of cooperation with technopolises.
  • Introduce the fundamentals of startup valuation and investment techniques.
  • Include active learning at real technopolises led by professional mentors with experience in startup valuation and investing.

During the final stage of the program, participents must give a project defense to a jury consisting of ROSATOM and IBS top management and chaired by the CEO or deputy CEO of ROSATOM.


The Strategic Breakthrough Triangle’s anticipated immediate impact includes:

  • Improving the coordination between functional departments of the company.
  • Creating better understanding of the company’s development strategy and the necessary changes related to disruptive technologies.
  • Accelerating company development as a result of middle managers’ team work on projects and challenges with the support of top managers and IBS RANEPA experts.
  • Assessing the effectiveness and synergy effects of the program’s educational model.

The anticipated mid-term and long-term impacts include:

  • A widespread discussion on the program’s educational model in the Russian business education community involving leading business schools and corporate universities.
  • Further development of the program’s model and its use by other schools and corporate universities.
  • Application of the program’s educational model to other programs aimed at professional development and executive training of the middle management of major Russian industrial companies.

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