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Thriving with Breakthrough Innovation By Edgar Sandoval Sr.

Breakthrough Innovation is Critical

As Christians, we experience the ultimate breakthrough when we surrender to Jesus. We can go only so far on our own; submitting to God’s will changes everything in our lives, opening possibilities we couldn’t previously reach.

We are in a moment of unprecedented change and disruption. More than ever as leaders we must challenge ourselves and our teams to think and work differently. I believe that breakthrough innovation will be critical to thrive in the post-COVID world. Breakthrough will be especially needed when pursuing a purposeful outcome. I’m passionate about this, having achieved breakthrough campaigns in both corporate America and a nonprofit ministry.

Breakthrough Story I.

At Procter & Gamble, when I was a senior leader, I sought a breakthrough creative concept for the feminine care sector that could empower young women and girls. Our research revealed that despite nationality, religion, and socio-economic status, when girls hit puberty, they lost confidence in their hopes and dreams. Loss of confidence among young girls was our public enemy #1, and we were committed to defeat it. The result was the Like A Girl campaign, which not only swept advertising awards and drove sales but achieved real change for young women.

 Breakthrough Story II.

Another breakthrough was at World Vision, when we flipped the script on the child sponsorship model for the first time in our 70-year history. Since joining the ministry in 2015, my heart had been broken by the plight of vulnerable children who just needed a chance, an opportunity to reach their potential. My team and I worked prayerfully over several years for a new way to bring more help to those children – without the big budget or Madison Avenue agency I had at P&G. The result was Chosen®, a gift born of prayer and obedience to the Lord and a transformative experience for children, staff, sponsors, and churches in the U.S.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned from these two experiences.

Decisive Leadership

It’s the role of a leader to determine when a breakthrough is needed – and then make the case for it. In both of my experiences with breakthrough innovation, I challenged the team to push for a something bigger than just business as usual. Not just a marketing campaign, but something that would make the world better.

The leader devotes the resources to make a breakthrough happen. They are the ones who can protect those resources from naysayers and distractions.

Set the Bar High and Keep it High

The leader is in the unenviable position of saying “no” – many times. I like to say that the biggest enemy of breakthrough work is “good enough” work. As the decision-maker, you have to be comfortable sending your team back to the drawing board again and again, while also keeping them motivated. At P&G, we missed a big deadline before launching Like A Girl. But after the resounding success of the campaign, no one remembered or cared.

Make It An Expression of Values

As arduous as it is to get to a game-changing idea, I’ve found that in the end, it’s obvious. It expresses the beliefs and values of your ministry or company, tapping into your very DNA.

For example, at World Vision, we believe in the God-given dignity of every child and in empowering children to be agents of change. We asked: “What if we flip the script of sponsorship and put the power to choose in a child’s hands?” That was the beginning of the breakthrough we called Chosen where a child gets to choose their sponsor.

I learned early in my career that “the fruits are in the roots.” If you’re working for a breakthrough creative idea, start with your brand beliefs, the reason your organization was created to begin with. Don’t overthink it, or you may miss it. And be sure to pray for God’s breakthrough – His plan in His timing.


Edgar Sandoval Sr. is the President and CEO, World Vision U.S.. Edgar brings decades of innovative leadership experience, his own personal story of overcoming hardship, and a deep faith in Jesus Christ to World Vision’s mission to reach and empower the world’s most vulnerable children.

World Vision was the sponsor for all of the Marketing and Communications workshop tracks at The Outcomes Conference 2021.  Check out the excellent Marketing and Communications workshops available inside the Outcomes Conference Digital Experience.

Available for all Christian Leadership Alliance members – July 1-31, 2021.



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