Clients, colleagues, and students often ask me to recommend business books that have helped me as a consultant and educator.
Playing To Win—How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger. L. Martin is a book I’ve been recommending recently for a couple of reasons.
Lafley and Martin demonstrate that:
- “Strategy is about making specific choices to win in the marketplace,” and decisions related to “Where to play?” and “How to win?” are critical in this respect.
- Strategy is conceived through an iterative, narrowing down process that determines “an integrated set of choices [a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities, and management systems] that uniquely positions the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage and superior value [for customers and shareholders] relative to its competition.”
The authors’ stated intent is to provide the reader with “a do-it-yourself” guide to strategy and they achieve this admirably.
This is largely due to the “playbook” they’ve presented for crafting strategy in an organization. This “playbook” includes:
- The strategic choice cascade: explaining “the nature of the [five] choices to be made” in conceiving strategy.
- The strategy logic flow: “a framework designed to helpfully direct your thinking to the key analyses that inform your five strategy choices.”
- Reverse engineering: “a specific methodology for making sense of conflicting strategic options” through exploring the question: “What would have to be true?” for each “strategic possibility to be a potentially winning choice.”
Their five strategic choices, framework, and process for conceiving strategy are easily comprehended through the numerous well-chosen examples. And, the replicable nature of this “playbook” to guide you in conceiving strategy quickly becomes apparent.
Playing to Win—How Strategy Really Works adds a valuable perspective to the practice of strategy and is well worth reading.
If “making specific choices to win” is at the heart of strategy, this is one book that provides you with a winning “playbook” to improve your odds of success in the marketplace.