Achieve Breakthrough

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Achieve Breakthrough's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Achieve Breakthrough is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Founder and CEO Mike Straw
Achieve Breakthrough’s
core team are based at
their HQ in the beautiful
Georgian city of Bath in the
South West
Achieve Breakthrough is a consultancy that helps blue-
chip businesses adopt an organisational culture of
high performance fit for today’s diverse and multi-
generational workforce. Its codified approach places an
emphasis on developing the mindset and behaviours of people,
leaders and teams within organisations. Seasoned CEOs and
eminent senior executives have credited the content of its
culture-shaping development programmes with helping them
to deliver transformations with long-lasting benefits. Founded
by Mike Straw in 2003, the company works across a range
of sectors to shift the collective thinking in organisations,
from being limited by conventional wisdom to being capable
of delivering breakthrough results. In most cases Achieve
Breakthrough is brought in to facilitate high-profile strategic
change initiatives.
Working with established clients from sectors such as pharmaceutical, healthcare,
FMCG, technology and energy, we help bring about lasting cultural change,
equipping employees and management with the skills, thinking and behaviours
they need to achieve long-term success. For each client, including a host of
the world’s biggest brands, we spend between a year and five years assisting
leadership, middle management, team development, major change programmes
and mergers and acquisitions. We understand the difference between incremental
improvement and breakthrough.
»Founder and CEO: Mike Straw
»Founded in 2003
»Based in Bath, operating
»Services: Organisational
culture transformation,
learning and development,
and change management
»No. of employees: 16
»Hired by seven of the top ten
global pharmaceutical giants
Achieve Breakthrough
Highlighting best practice
Going beyond one’s frame of
We help companies achieve amazing
new outcomes through training,
coaching, facilitation and learning
experience design. Using these
techniques, we can unlock the
potential of people and get them
thinking and working in a way they
previously thought wasn’t possible.
Companies always talk about wanting
more speed, more flexibility and more
agility, empowered staff, risk takers
and innovative thinking, but they
try to achieve this before making a
fundamental breakthrough in how
staff think. When looking for answers,
most people use their historical frame
of reference to help determine what
is possible for the future and they are
thus limited by past experience. What
we do is to fundamentally shift what
people see as possible by altering their
world view and allowing them to look
beyond their own frame of reference,
whether this is of an individual,
team or company. In this way, we
can change mindsets and allow truly
innovative strategies to come to the
forefront of a business.
Throughout our time working in
this space, we have developed a
methodology that allows us to change
mindsets and attitudes so that people
can lead effective system, process,
structure and strategy changes.
The DNA that runs through this
methodology is the “breakthrough
mindset”, which stops people limiting
themselves by what they perceive to
be possible, instead allowing them to
pursue their dream outcome. Rather
than being satisfied with incremental
change, we encourage everyone within
a company to become truly responsible
for the way they think and act.
After involvement with us, people see
themselves as being in charge of their
own destiny and realise that they are
the decisive element in their work.
CEOs often feel that they bear all
the responsibility, but they also want
people throughout the organisation to
take the same level of responsibility.
Through practical processes, we allow
employees to feel liberated in the
way they think and pursue outcomes
they hadn’t previously considered.
Breakthrough thinking allows
individuals to build upon their past
experiences and approach tasks with a
new and innovative mindset.
Going beyond theory
Many of our competitors offer their
clients knowledge and ethereal
frameworks, but we believe that a
new perspective cannot be taught
through theory alone. People need
a practical toolkit to help them think
and behave differently in a real-world
setting. In addition, organisations
need a common language running
through their culture in order to
facilitate people to use these tools.
For example, it’s easy to tell people
to be more transparent when
problems arise, but people are
programmed to avoid problems and
most cultures do not proactively
Achieve Breakthrough
offer an innovative
learning approach, with
many of their workshops
delivered face-to-face,
but in a virtual format
live from their Bath HQ
using the latest filming
They took our
developed them
and we are
results we could
only have
Testimonial from a
divisional head at a top
ten pharmaceutical
encourage failure. We give people
the tools and language necessary
to redefine problems as stumbling
blocks, which are necessary on the
road to achieving breakthroughs. We
help cultures to embrace problems as
opportunities, encouraging employees
to feel comfortable applying their
Organisations roll out so many
different change programmes, and
the very best way to enable them
is by emphasising culture-shaping
personal development as opposed to
knowledge-based training or binary,
one-directional change management
models. We encourage people to
develop practical capabilities that
can be used and applied in order to
achieve new outcomes, and we do
this by measuring the outcomes of
our programmes rigorously. We have
received a number of referrals as a
result. Unlike many consultancies, we
don’t come into a company and tell
them what they are doing wrong and
look to rectify it. Instead, we develop
and coach them and give the staff
the skills and mindset that allows
them to discover their own solutions.
In this way, the outcomes are lasting
Most people already have the answers
and creativity within them, but they
refuse to look beyond conventional
knowledge in a bid to fulfil their
ambitions. We give people permission
to let go of their baggage and provide
them with the capability to deliver
their ideas. This represents true
empowerment, something that many
companies are looking to achieve.
Many of the organisations we work
with tell us that they want to unlock
the potential of their staff. The staff tell
us that they want to be listened to and
understood better. We can unblock
this line of communication, so that
employees feel heard and employers
feel that their people are working to
their potential.
Given the speed at which technology
and science have evolved over the
last 50 years, it is apparent that
management techniques are lagging
behind. They have been slow and
stagnant for too long and the further
potential of organisations can only
be unlocked if this lag is properly
addressed. The behemoths of Silicon
Valley, along with millennial and
gen-Z workers, are bravely challenging
conventional corporate culture, which
is having a positive disruptive effect
on other sectors. But old methods
remain prevalent and there are only
a few organisations that are keeping
up with new trends. We have been in
this field for nearly 25 years all told,
yet it has just become mainstream.
There are now new players in the
field, but our methodology and style
of delivering means that we remain
at the cutting edge. I hope to see
more and more people taking an
interest in breakthrough mindsets and
understanding how they themselves
can unlock their potential. I also hope
to witness consultancies looking to
embrace practical methods that have a
lasting effect.
the spirit and
enthusiasm of
our teams,
enabling us to
change more
rapidly than
ever before
Testimonial from an
executive at a leading
international medical
devices organisation
Achieve Breakthrough
are particularly proud
of their work in the
pharmaceutical and life
sciences sector, helping
complex and global
organisations to hone a
breakthrough culture

This article was sponsored by Achieve Breakthrough. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster