Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

The Founder of Inspire Leadership & focuses on unlocking people’s potential by providing them with programs; mentorship and coaching into high performance

Book by Alan G Lafley and Roger Martin

A.G. Lafley collaborates with Roger Martin to explain how one can create a winning strategy for his or her organization. This is a story about strategic decision creation. It is told through the strategic decision making at Procter & Gamble (P&G) when A.G. Lafley was the Chief Executive Officer and Roger Martin was his chief Outside Strategy Advisor. Under Lafley’s leadership, P&G’s sales doubled, its profits quadrupled, its market value increased by more than $100 billion and its portfolio of billion-dollar brands like Tide, Pampers, Olay, and Gillette grew from 10 to 24 as a result of his focus on winning strategic choices, consumer-driven innovation and reliable, sustainable growth.

According to Lafley and Roger, there are five choices that each strategist needs to consider or define:

  1. A winning aspiration — the purpose of your enterprise which is its motivating aspiration and where it needs to win. 
  2. Where to play — a playing field where your organization can achieve that aspiration.
  3. How to win — The way your organization will win on the chosen playing field.
  4. Core capabilities — The set of capabilities and configuration that are required in your organization to win in the chosen way.
  5. Management systems and measures that will enable your organizations to win through the support from the capabilities and support system required to win on the choices.

The authors of the book have significant experiences and insights as to where brands need to play and how to win when they get there. The insights provided in the book are relevant to all managers who want to alter and simplify their strategy culture and at the same time help their organizations to win.

Strategy, as I mentioned from last week's book review is becoming a very important topic during these challenging and uncertain times. This book helps us understand what strategy is and what it is not. Many of us are still struggling with operational issues in the name of the strategy and hence the book plays a key role to help us define what strategy is. At the same time, the book provides us with a framework and process that help define and align our winning aspirations, where-to-play and how-to-win choices, as well as the core capabilities and management systems that we require. These are all key ingredients that we need to move our organizations to the next level.

Another area that I found the book very useful is its provision on how we can use the strategy logic flow and reverse engineering processes to think through our strategies, develop new ideas/choices and choose the ones that would give us the highest chances of success.

Resources allocation is key in businesses and this needs to be done optimally to be able to create the multiplying effects across the various products, functions and business units within the organization.

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