Book – Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

bookWonderful book – beside major strategy advice, the book has many seemingly little recommendations that can be very useful.

The biggest advice is simple and seemingly very hard for many organizations: there are many good strategies for a specific company and market  – there is no “perfect strategy.”  However, one needs to be chosen.  Strategy is a choice… This choice need to be made – and communicated to the organization.  That is it.

  1. What is our winning aspiration? (purpose of the business)
  2. Where will we play?  (Industries, regions, intermediaries)
  3. How will we win?  (Connected with “Where will we play” – how the aspiration in the chosen “where” can be achieved?
  4. What capabilities must be in place?
  5. What management systems are required?

Interesting: The “strategy” can also be applied to an individual department of the organization, which can create its own strategy serving internal customers.  For example: P&G considered understanding of the customer as an essential strength and a competitive advantage.  The research department had its own strategy based on the company’s approach.  It outsourced all “standard” research and developed expertise in unique and industry-specific research.

Understanding of the consumer was the main strength and competitive advantage of P&G.  Razor product developer did not understand why would he need to go to India for two weeks to study shaving habits of Indian men, when so many Indian men could be found relatively close to the research facility.   After spending some time in India, the product developer changed his mind – and designed the razor specific for Indian environment on a napkin while flying back from India.  the most significant insight came from the realization that shaving environment is different – while Western men shave with the availability of the running warm water, Indian men often had only a cup of cold water available for the task.  The new razor was designed to work better without easy availability of running water.

Arguments about different approaches:  useful not to discuss approaches in general, but state “what needs to be true for this approach to be viable” – in this case the discussion is switched into a more productive route.

Communication of the company’s strategy to the organization – the clearer the better.  The strategy needs to be clear and simple for all of the company’s employees (considering that English is a second language for many people in international companies).  The strategy also need to be easy to remember for employees.

Interesting – I did not find any fear that communicating the strategy to employees can alert the competition… 😉

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