Competitive Strategy - Playing to Win

Generic Strategies

Competitive strategy - playing to win:  Strategy is not complex, but it is hard. It’s hard because it forces people and organizations to make specific choices about their future.  Two well-known business thinkers get to the heart of strategy – explaining what it’s for, how to think about it, why you need it, and how to get it done.

A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, in close partnership with strategic adviser Roger Martin, doubled P&G’s sales, quadrupled its profits, and increased its market value by more than $100 billion in 10 years.

Many leaders make one of six different competitive strategy errors:

  • There is the Do-It-All strategy, shorthand for failing to prioritize
  • The Don Quixote strategy unwisely attacks the firm’s strongest competitor first
  • The Waterloo strategy attacks on too many fronts at once
  • The Something-For-Everyone strategy tries to capture every sort of customers all once, rather than prioritizing.
  • The Program-Of-The-Month business strategy pursues distinctiveness for whatever is currently fashionable in an industry.
  • The Dreams-That-Never-Come-True strategy never translates ambitious mission statements into clear choices about which markets to compete in and how to win in them

A good strategy has five components all designed to improve the odds of success by helping managers make the right choices.

  • Figuring out what winning looks like and which markets to play in
  • Determining how to win
  • Identifying, and playing to, the company’s strengths relative to its competitors
  • Identifying those things that need to be managed for the strategy to succeed
  • Deciding what not to manage

Staying on Top

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works. By A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin. Harvard Business Review Press.  BOSSES fail for many different reasons. Some are just unlucky. Some are sunk by their lack of ambition. As Alan Lafley and Roger Martin see it, settling for muddling along rather than going all out for victory means that a company “will inevitably fail to make the tough choices and the significant investments that would make winning even a remote possibility.” Many are brought down by making a competitive strategy  error, of which there are six common varieties. There is the Do-It-All strategy, shorthand for failing to make real choices about priorities. The Don Quixote strategy unwisely attacks the company’s strongest competitor first. The Waterloo strategy pursues war on too many fronts at once. The Something-For-Everyone tries to capture every sort of customer at once, rather than prioritising. The Programme-Of-The-Month eschews distinctiveness for whatever

Competitive Strategy - Playing to Win

Highlights by David Willden