Lafley & Martin: Playing the Strategy Game

This is the 9th post in a series on Lafley & Martin’s great business strategy book, “Playing to Win”. At this stage, L&M have given over a complete set of iterative questions whose answers provide a business strategy – there are five.

But how do you use these in real life? You are best off starting from the top – clarifying what is winning in your situation. Not as an absolute judgment, but as the starting point to ask and answer other questions about where to play and how to win. In other words, you may need to revisit your idea of winning in light of what you learn as you go forward.

The “where to play” and “how to win” questions are context specific. In other words, there is no “one size fits all” answer. So how does one look at a given context? There are lots of tools that generate data, from the simple SWOT analysis to the more complex VRIN  model. But the goal is not just to generate data. It is to find and use the most relevant data. And this is where things get interesting.

In fact, there are only 4 dimensions to consider:

  1. the industry
  2. the customers
  3. Your relative position, and
  4. the competition

You can organize thinking about each into a “strategy logic flow”. that poses 7 questions. These questions move from industry to customers to relative position and finally to competition.

The first two questions relate to your industry. and I will teat with them next!


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