playing-to-win-cover-newPlaying to Win: How Strategy Really Works
By A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin

Head: (4 out of 5)
Heart: (3.5 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (4.5 out of 5)

In Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, authors A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin draw from their years of experience working at Proctor & Gamble and the Rotman School of Management to explain the strategy behind one of the most successful corporate turnarounds of the century. They address how leaders of companies, big and small, can use simple techniques in their own organizations. The authors set out to right the wrong thinking about strategy.

Strategy is not about having a vision, and it’s not about having a plan. For the authors it is about winning. Winning requires a strategy that is managed and joined by a set of five questions. Playing to Win provides a provocative definition of strategy as the answer to these five questions – the same five questions no matter what your industry, size or situation:

  • What is our winning aspiration?
  • Where will we play?
  • How will we win?
  • What capabilities must we have in place to win?
  • What management systems are required to support our choices?

Strategy is boiled down to two key factors: 1) Where to play? and 2) How to win?  “These two choices,” write Martin and Lafley, “are tightly bound up with one another, form the very heart of strategy and are the two most critical questions in strategy formulation.” Playing To Win answers these questions in a winning way through a simple framework that’s both easy to understand, use, and makes it accessible to all.

Strategy begins with making choices and tough decisions. If this does not happen, you will never have a genuine strategy. But as the book points out, developing a strategy is not difficult, provided that those involved are prepared to address key questions and welcome a diversity of views to identify the best direction for the business. Buy it