Playing To Win
AG Lafley and Roger Martin write about six strategic errors and five essentials in Playing to Win, reports The Economist (1/12/13). The six errors are the “Do-It-All Strategy,” or failing to prioritize; the “Don Quixote,” or attacking one’s “strongest competitor first”; the “Waterloo” opens too many fronts; the “Something-for-Everyone” attempts to win “every sort of customer at once”; the “Program-of-the-Month” chases whatever is “currently fashionable”; and the “Dreams-That-Never-Come-True” fails to link the mission statement to choices about where to compete and how to win.
Strategic success, then, is all about making choices. The first two components are “figuring out what winning looks like and which markets to play in while seeking that victory.” Component number three is determining a “distinctive strategy” in a targeted market. The fourth and fifth components are “identifying, and playing to, the company’s unique strengths relative to its competitors, and identifying those things that need to be managed for the strategy to succeed.”
The book provides examples of successes AG achieved using each of the five principles when he was CEO of Procter & Gamble. Among them is the “tale of how Oil of Olay was transformed from a struggling skincare brand with a declining market … into the booming Olay range serving the fastest-growing part of the market with its products for fighting ‘the seven signs of aging’.” AG does not get into his strategic failures, such as Folgers and Pringles, or explore whether his strategic successes “also sowed the seeds of later problems.” But he does allow that “no strategy lasts forever.”