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Required reading if you are thinking how to grow or turn around your business
on 17 February 2013
Every once in a long while you come across a thinker who has such a magnificent command of the facts, wide ranging intellectual creativity, but most of all clarity of expression that you simply think –‘of course – that’s amazing - why didn’t I think of that!’. Roger Martin is one of those thinkers who can review the world of business and strategy with intellectual rigor and convey it in such a clear, convincing way you remember his key arguments years later.
In Playing To Win, Roger Martin teams up with A.G. Lafley to explain the process of creating strategic decisions told through the story of the strategic decision making at P&G while A.G.Lafley was CEO and Roger Martin was his chief outside strategic advisor. At a time when many executives would synonymise strategy with financial planning, or creation of yearly goals, Lafley and Martin remind us that strategy boils down to two questions: ‘where to play?’ and ‘how to win?’ and then making specific choices. In Martin and Lafley’s words:
“A strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of where-to-play, how-to-win, core capability, and management system choices that uniquely meet a customer’s needs…it is only through making and acting on choices that you can win. Yes, clear, tough choices force your hand and confine you to a path. But they also free you to focus on what matters.”
In the penultimate chapter, Martin and Lafley describe in detail their techniques to think through strategic issues in a way that leads to real decisions, not rafts of analyst reports and is the only method Martin now uses. I won’t spoil what is perhaps the most valuable part of the book, but suffice to say that once I started this chapter I could not put down the book and despite a long week, read late into the night.
Playing to Win: How strategy really works is nothing short of brilliant, and if you are a strategist, or just a manager trying to figure out how to grow or turn around your business you should have a dog-eared copy on your bookshelf next to Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy.