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Friday, March 29, 2013


Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley & Roger L. Martin - book review

Playing To Win

How Strategy Really Works

By: A.G. Lafley, Roger L. Martin

Published: February 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
ISBN-10: 142218739X
ISBN-13: 978-1422187395
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

"Strategy can seem mystical and mysterious. It isn't. It is easily defined. It is a set of choices about winning", write former chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley; and dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Roger L. Martin, in their brilliant and winning results oriented book Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works. The authors describe how to devise and execute a winning strategy, that will transform and company and its brands through a fresh and readily understood approach to business strategy.

A.G. Lafley (photo left) and Roger L. Martin recognize that not all companies have an effective business strategy. The authors point out that the problem is multiplied by a failure of many business leaders to understand the difference between a vision and a strategy. For the authors, a strategy is for winning, and it's about choice. Instead of simply playing, the authors provide the blueprint for actually winning.

They also describe how to make the best choices to ensure that winning is final outcome. This overall approach to strategy, by combining winning with choices, forms the foundation of the book. The authors delve into the very deepest and most fundamental aspects of strategy, ensuring that leaders incorporate their critical elements into their thinking and decision making process.

Roger L. Martin (photo left) and A.G. Lafley present a complete and readily applicable process for establishing a winning strategy. The choices based approach to strategy is composed of five fully integrated choices. Those five choices are as follows:

* What is your winning aspiration? The firm's purpose.
* Where will you play? Where that aspiration will take place.
* How will you win? The method of winning on the chosen field.
* What capabilities must be in place? The skills and resources needed for winning.
* What management systems are required? The systems and metrics to support the above.

For me, the power of the book is how A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin combine a thorough examination of the theoretical elements that comprise a winning strategy, with the mutually reinforcing choices necessary to put that strategy into action successfully. The authors present their ideas in an easily understood format, where each of the principles blends seamlessly into one another. Each of the five choices add to the overall goal of winning as the ultimate goal.

The authors also offer a complete guide to better understanding the deeper and underlying meaning of the very idea of a strategy for an organization. The authors also provide real world examples of the five strategic choices in action to illustrate their effectiveness. Each chapter also includes valuable and useful hands on questions and takeaways that assist in the overall understanding of the principles being discussed in each chapter.

I highly recommend the game changing and real world proven book Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, to any business leaders and decision makers who are seeking a clear and concise guide to establishing a winning strategy, and for making the appropriate choices to make that strategy an effective one. This book will change the way business leaders think about and apply strategy forever.


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