The Great Discovey: 8 Steps to Breakthrough



The Great Discovery® is profound knowledge.  It’s a proven way of thinking that will get you out of the box and show you the path to victory in virtually every aspect of your life – your home life, your personal life and your work life.  In this sense, The Great Discovery is proven system that can easily transform any person, team or organization into an integrated, high performance machine for getting over-the-top results.  In a nutshell, The Great Discovery will reshape the way you think which, in turn, will greatly increase your odds of success.  It’s an easy to learn, simple yet highly effective way that everyone, even teenagers, can benefit from the goodness of Six Sigma.


Throughout our personal and professional lives, we sometimes feel a compelling need to pursue a dream or achieve a stretch goal for ourselves or a work team.  So how can the odds of success be maximized?  Is there a tried and tested way of getting yourself or others on the path to success?

As many already know, the answer to such questions is founded on knowledge.  Simply stated, you can’t do what you don’t know.  Consequently, if you expect to achieve breakthrough in some dimension of your life, you must have the underlying knowledge that is required to innovate and execute high quality solutions.  In light of this, The Great Discovery motto is:

To get the right things, you must do the right things

To do the right things, you must know the right things

To know the right things, you must value the right things

Interestingly, during the course of our formal education, we are taught many facts and skills, like reading, writing and arithmetic (so to speak), but we are never formally taught how to succeed.  To do this, most of us have been left on our own.  In an attempt to create success, we often call upon our existing knowledge and then rely on trial-and-error to find the illusive path to success.  That is to say, we sit down, think about what we would like from some dimension of our life and then try to invent a formula for realizing our dreams or goals – calling upon our education and experiences to help guide our efforts.

Almost without saying, such an approach to breakthrough results in a hit-and-miss strategy that often leads to disappointing results, if any.  Well, several years ago and after a great amount of research and testing, this author and researcher was able to uncovered a way that can help you avoid such short comings.  It’s called The Great Discovery® and was created from the DNA of Six Sigma, a business management system that is used all over the world to drive business success.

In a nutshell, The Great Discovery is a process that advances human achievement to the point of breakthrough – and beyond.  In this regard, its a way that ordinary people can envision, plan and achieve extraordinary things.  The Great Discovery is a structured, disciplined and systematic way of thinking that allows you to formulate a dream or stretch-goal and then create a clear roadmap to the realization of such aspirations.  In this regard, The Great Discovery can be thought of as “Six Sigma for People.”

Furthermoe, The Great Discovery is a repeatable, teachable and sustainable system that will help guide you to what you value most in life. It’s a way you can unify the thinking and activity of people toward a common vision.  It’s a method that allows you to provide solid, confident leadership – in your personal life, your home life and your work life.

The Discovery Process

The Six Sigma Way of Thinking is initiated by first declaring your mission, followed by the identification of the top values that can be realized upon mission success. To trigger the onset of mission success, you must identify and define the catalyst. Following this, the progressive milestones are put in place to guide your way to activation of the catalyst. Next, the critical forces are identified that builds your momentum from one milestone to next. For each of the critical forces, you must identify the actions that will better engage or disengage those forces.

Thus, as we execute our action plans, we build forward momentum. In this way, you can confidently and efficiently move from milestone to milestone until the catalyst is triggered; therein, initializing the onset of mission success. As the realization of your mission unfolds, you become better enabled to live out your core values. In this way, your odds of victory are greatly increased. In summary, The Great Discovery provides you the knowledge and tools needed to better innovate and execute solutions that lead to high quality results.  A graphic of the Breakthrough Process and the related step-by-step discussion is provided below.  Click to enlarge graphic.

Breakthrough Process


Step 1: Clarify Core Values

This first step of the Breakthrough Process is to clarify the core values that will result from mission success. This means you must identify, prioritize and fully define the greatest things that will come about as a result of achieving your mission – regardless of whether you are trying to create breakthrough in your home life, your personal life or some aspect of your work life.

But why should your mission be connected to values? The answer to this question is simple. The desire to live out certain key values is the reason the mission was undertaken. In other words, values are the stuff from which dreams and goals are made. Thus, your mission (dreams, goals and aspirations) should connect to your values.

Remember, you bring about what you think about. If your mission is unclear, then your vision of victory will be cloudy and ambiguous.  When the target is blurred, it is highly doubtful your mind will guide your behaviors into the bull’s eye.

The more you think about that vision in a clear and quality way, the more your mind will consciously and/or subconsciously shape your behaviors to realize that vision. Consequently, your odds of living out your core values will increase. That’s why a well-defined mission that is in harmony with you core values plays such an important role on your path to breakthrough.

If you want to know your true values, just look at the artifacts in your life.  Think about all of the various types of things that might reflect or otherwise provide insights into what your values are.  For example, think of your checkbook register (i.e., what you spend money on).  If you scan through it, you will begin to see that certain kinds of expenditures were very important to you while others were not.  So ask yourself: “What makes a particular kind of expenditure so important to me?”  In answering that question, you will likely uncover one or more of your core values.  You can repeat this exercise for other types of artifacts in your personal life, home life and work life.  In this way, you can identify and clarify your core values.

Step 2: Determine Catalyst Dream

This step of the Breakthrough Process is about determining what your catalyst dream should be.  Of interest, your catalyst is actually the last milestone that you, your family or your work team will need to achieve in order to trigger the onset of mission success.

You can look at the catalyst much like a rifle.  When you pull the trigger there is a slight delay until the bullet comes out of the barrel.  This is because the rifle has some internal mechanical parts that must interact in a domino-like way before the bullet comes flying out of the barrel.  By the same token, once you achieve your catalyst dream, you trigger a set of events that cannot be stopped.  Naturally, the ultimate effect of such cause-and-effect events is mission success.  Once mission success is realized, you then have the freedom of choice to live out the related values.

In this sense, your catalyst is the last accomplishment along your path to mission success. Expressed differently, it can be said that achieving the catalyst triggers mission success.  A catalyst dream is not something you arbitrarily select or leave to chance. Rather, it is something that you must thoughtfully design. Of course, this implies that the design of your catalyst must guided by your mission and its related values.

Also remember that your mission and top values should shape your catalyst dream, not the other way around.  It also implies that if the catalyst is not properly designed, you might still achieve your mission, but then later discover that the values you empowered “conflict” with your new way of life; consequently, you’re left feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied.  This line of reasoning seems to coincide with the wise old saying: “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.”

Step 3: Establish Leading Milestones

This step of the Breakthrough Process is about establishing your leading milestones. Through the use of milestones, you will move more assuredly from your starting point to your catalyst. In other words, milestones are like stepping stones that will bridge the gap between where you currently are and the realization of your last milestone (catalyst).

In this sense, you can think of milestones like checkpoints or “tollgates” along the path.  Milestones are intermediate goals that are line-of-site from one to the next. Consequently, milestones serve to make your journey more direct, focused, confident, manageable and even more accountable.

Of course, once you achieve a milestone, you must reward yourself in a complementary way. As we all know, such rewards will keep you highly motivated and better focused. That’s why leading milestones play such a vital role on the path to breakthrough.

Step 4: Select Problematic Milestone

This step of the Breakthrough Process is about selecting your problematic milestones. In other words, we are talking about identifying those milestones that you’re uncertain about in terms of difficulty, resources and actions.  You know, the kind of milestones you’re not quite sure how to accomplish.

Almost without saying, this kind of milestone will require sound planning and detailed analysis to fully achieve its aims, which means you will need to apply the Six Sigma Way of Thinking, or SWOT for short. This way of achieving milestones relies on a proven, systematic way of thinking that will guide you through the process of milestone planning, analysis and execution; and done so in a highly structured and disciplined manner using the power of science.

On the other hand, some milestones will be easy to accomplish.  In other words, you will intuitively know what actions must be taken and have access to all the resources you need to get the job done.  Although this type of milestone might be time consuming and require a lot of work, it will not require a lot of planning and analysis.  Consequently, this type of milestone is referred to as a JDIT, which means “Just Do It.”  To accomplish this kind of milestone, you simply “roll up your shirt sleeves” and go about getting the work done.

To help you do this, consider the following example.  Suppose you are enrolled in a school that offers a “College Degree” you want (i.e., a catalyst dream).  For purposes of this example, we will say that one of the milestones is: “Get straight A’s for the first semester.”  At this point, the question becomes: “Is this a JDIT or SWOT milestone?”  To make this decision, just ask yourself which of the following statements are true: 1) “I know what must be done to achieve the milestone;” 2) “I have all the needed resources to compete this milestone;” and 3) “I know this milestone will be easy.”

If you answered “False” to any of the three statements, it is likely the milestone will require the Six Sigma Way of Thinking (SWOT) in order to successfully plan and execute the required actions.  If you answered “True” to all three statements, you should probably consider the milestone a JDIT (Just-Do-It).

Step 5: Identify Vital Forces

This step of the Breakthrough Process is about identifying your vital forces. This means that, for a selected problematic milestone, you will need to use brainstorming methods to identify the forces (i.e., critical factors) that must be brought into play (or taken out of play) in order to achieve the given milestone aims. Essentially, there are two types of forces: driving forces and restraining forces.

As you might expect, the driving forces are the factors that help you build and sustain momentum toward a milestone, while the restraining forces are the factors that serve to reduce or otherwise inhibit your forward momentum. Of course, when the net effect of the driving forces is greater than that of the restraining forces, you build forward momentum.  On the other hand, if the net effect is negative, you will likely lose ground and suffer setbacks.

In most situations, not all forces exert the same influence in creating a result.  Those forces that have far greater power are called the Vital Few, while the remainder are referred to as the Trivial Many.  So, by focusing on the vital few forces and ignoring the trivial many, you can leverage your way to breakthrough. In short, this translates to “working smarter, not harder.” That’s why the vital forces play such a crucial role on your path to breakthrough.

Step 6: Define Enabling Actions

This step of the Breakthrough Process is about putting your action plan into motion.  Recall that your values are energized through mission success.  In turn, your mission must be broken down into progressive milestones, some of which may prove to be difficult or otherwise problematic in nature (called SWOT milestones).  Also recall that for each SWOT milestone, you must define the vital forces that will propel you to the next milestone.  Following this, you must define the actions that you will execute to engage or disengage the power of each vital force.

Next, you must prioritize those actions from most important to least important.  With this accomplished, you must then select and define the vital few actions (usually, the Top 5 is sufficient).  In this way, you can effectively and efficiently leverage the power and sustainability of each vital force.

Once you have selected one of the vital few forces associated with a SWOT milestone, you must now identify the actions that will increase or decrease a selected force.  To better understand this concept, consider the following example.  Suppose your catalyst dream is to get a “College Degree” and your first SWOT milestone is: “Get straight A’s for the first semester.”  Say that one of the vital few driving forces you associate with this milestone is called: “Good Study Habits.”  Given this, you might want to define six actions where three would serve to strengthen the force and the other three would increase the force’s sustainability.

Step 7: Complete Action Plan

This step of the Breakthrough Process is about executing the action plans that will increase your vital few driving forces and decrease the vital few restraining forces.  Naturally, this is the point where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

In other words, you must now summon your inner strength and focus all of your attention on executing the actions you believe will increase your critical driving forces and decrease your vital restraining forces.  To do this in a timely and quality way, you must continually review your plan of action and always consider what must be done and when it must be done, as well as how it must be done.

Remember, you bring about what you think about.  Once you know the result you are trying to achieve, spend your time thinking about the actions that will bring the desired result into reality.  Every day you should ask yourself: “Will the things I do today lead me closer to or farther from my goals.”  By continually thinking about the required actions, you increase your odds of successfully completing those actions.

For each SWOT milestone, recall that you must identify the vital driving and restraining forces.  Then, for each vital force, you must define the actions that must be executed to increase or decrease the vital forces.  Of course, once this has been accomplished, you simply pool all of the actions into a single list and then sequence the actions into the most appropriate order of execution.

However, before you begin to implement your action plan, you should first consider the resources that might be needed to effectively and efficiently execute each action. For example, consider the vital force called: “Good Study Habits.”  Let’s say that one of the actions required to increase this force is called: “Create Study Group.”  What resources would likely be required to execute this action in a quality way?

Step 8: Check Progress Results

This step of the Breakthrough Process is about checking your progress results. This means that you must periodically look over your shoulder and evaluate the effectiveness of your milestone action plan.  You should want to do this after completing each milestone.

In other words, during the course of implementing your action plan, you must occasionally evaluate where you’ve been and then determine if you’re still on track and moving toward your target milestone in a quality way.

If so, you should then continue your efforts. If not, you might need to increase or decrease one or more of the vital few forces.  In some cases, you might want to consider supplementing your plan with one or more new actions to better enable or disable the influence of certain forces. You might even need to introduce some new forces into the mix.

Another tactic would be to split the milestone into several smaller milestones. Of course, you might be able to develop some synergy by using some combination of these tactics.  By following this way of thinking, you will greatly increase your odds of success. That’s why checking your progress results plays such a critical role on your path to breakthrough.

The Experience of Others

Steve Wilzbach, Emmy Award Recipient:  “When I was first introduced to The Great Discovery, it made my head spin with the possibilities.  It was absolutely incredible.   I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Since that time, I have embraced its wisdom, applied the principles and used the process, not just in my home life, but at work as well.  Through LKTV Productions, we are now using The Great Discovery to show kids how they can reach out to the stars and achieve their dreams.  Wow, what an impact.  Even better, they “get it” and use it in their lives.  After my experiences with The Great Discovery, I can’t imagine any other way of living, working and prospering.  It’s the only way to go.”

Connie Clark: “Finally, a way for everyone to benefit from the proven principles of Six Sigma! As a healthcare executive, I found The Great Discovery (TGD) to be worthwhile training for employees on all levels of the organization. First and foremost, it is a practical, step-by-step template or framework for “how to think” in terms of dreaming big, planning effectively, and finally, how to tactically breakdown the work plan into individual action steps to drive success. Secondly, the program’s structure and lessons address the notion of “the freedom of choice” of opportunities we may have or could create; but never thought of previously. With our colleagues and employees all on “same page,” we can start to experience, focus, and leverage some breakthrough dialogue and ideas that may provide inspiration, reduce/avoid defects and truly make a bottom-line difference in our businesses. Lastly, TGD, once internalized, becomes a natural way to think about every project we do for work, for home, for church, and even for community initiatives. The beauty of the “proven path” of TGD is that it is “simple, manageable, actionable, repeatable, and teachable” (SMART). I only wish I had learned these lessons 20 years ago!”

Paul S. Markle:The developers of The Great Discovery recommended I begin applying the process on a personal level and transition into using it from a professional or business perspective. I began doing this and as a result how I use my time and set goals has improved dramatically. My wife and I began using The Great Discovery; and in a couple of hours, we established clearer goals for our family. Just yesterday we checked off 5 of the 6 goals we had set and all were completed ahead of deadline. The one left is well on its way and should be finished before our deadline.”

Cathy Lawson: “The Great Discovery is absolutely amazing because it shows you how to take a dream and define it in terms of what you must do today in order to move you closer to achieving that dream.  I have learned how to think differently about every area of my life including my business, my relationships and my own personal development. I am confident that I can achieve everything I dream about using this process.”

Dan Novak: “The fundamental principles used in The Great Discovery are supported by a deep body of knowledge in leadership and organizational research, and TGD is the first evidence-based, practical methodology that simplifies and integrates the full range of critical components. In other words, it works! It will get you from here to there! It provides a proven path to guide you from dreams (personal dreams or organizational goals) all the way through execution. It is also an excellent coaching framework, and it will assist leaders as they coach their employees to achieve personal fulfillment and organizational success. Leaders who consistently apply this methodology and way of thinking will, perhaps for the first time, see alignment and clarity permeating the organization. As for me, I cannot wait to share this pragmatic methodology with more of my clients and students.”

Tom Hughes: “I now have a very productive way to address the many challenges that I face, using positive thinking.  The methods have given me confidence to develop plans for virtually anything that I want to improve. The training was very compact and to the point.  The best part was its inspirational message to never, never, never, settle for less than the best.”

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Dr. Mikel J. Harry Biography & Professional Vita

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Copyright 2013 Dr. Mikel J. Harry, Ltd.






About Mikel Harry

Dr. Harry has been widely recognized in many of today's notable publications as the Co-Creator of Six Sigma and the world's leading authority within this field. His book entitled Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations has been on the best seller list of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Business Week, and He has been a consultant to many of the world’s top senior executives, such as Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric Corporation. Dr. Harry has also been a featured guest on popular television programs, such as the premier NBC show "Power Lunch." He is often quoted in newspapers like USA Today and interviewed by the media, such as The Economic Times. In addition, Dr. Harry has received many distinguished awards in recognition of his contributions to industry and society. At the present time, Dr. Harry is Chairman of the Six Sigma Management Institute and CEO of The Great Discovery, LLC.
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