Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

by A.G. Lafley, Roger L. Martin

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Are you just playing—or 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—something that doesn’t happen in most companies.

Now two of today’s best-known business thinkers get to the heart of…  See more details below


Are you just playing—or 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—something that doesn’t happen in most companies.

Now two of today’s best-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. And they use one of the most successful corporate turnarounds of the past century, which they achieved together, to prove their point.

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 just ten years. Now, drawn from their years of experience at P&G and the Rotman School of Management, where Martin is dean, this book shows how leaders in organizations of all sizes can guide everyday actions with larger strategic goals built around the clear, essential elements that determine business success—where to play and how to win.

The result is a playbook for winning. Lafley and Martin have created a set of five essential strategic choices that, when addressed in an integrated way, will move you ahead of your competitors. They are:

• 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?

The stories of how P&G repeatedly won by applying this method to iconic brands such as Olay, Bounty, Gillette, Swiffer, and Febreze clearly illustrate how deciding on a strategic approach—and then making the right choices to support it—makes the difference between just playing the game and actually winning.

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Editorial Reviews

At Proctor & Gamble, CEO A.G. Lafley and strategic advisor Roger Martin managed a massive corporate makeover. During their ten-year partnership, the pair doubled the company's sales, quadrupled its profits, and increased its market value by over $100 billion. Their sometimes hard-knocks, practical experience imbues this book about managerial strategy with a real-world feel lacking in some more theoretical studies. Whether you read it as a tutorial or as a business history, Playing to Win hits the mark.

Product Details

Harvard Business Review Press
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Barnes & Noble
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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“This is a fascinating tale, featuring a cast of familiar brands, including Pampers, Tide and Olay, each of which went through a transformation under Mr. Lafley’s eye.” — The Economist

“this new offering by former Procter & Gamble CEO Lafley (coauthor of The Game-Changer) and Martin (dean of the Rotman School of Management and author of Fixing the Game) is a clear standout…This collection of insights and captivating examples about strategy is a must-read for leaders at any level in the for-profit or not-for-profit world.” — Publishers Weekly

“Strategy lessons, 101… a manual for strategy practitioners.” — Financial Times

“the book can be used by any business to help mesh everyday operations with long-term strategic objectives.” — Fort Worth Star Telegram

“just about everyone trying to market anything these days could profit from this careful, well-done text on how to craft a strategy.” — Marketing Daily

“Pick up the book to know how to create a triple crown: a win in China, a win in India, and a win at home; and to understand the differences and similarities between China and India.” — Business India

“This valuable book is based on the two authors’ years of experience working together and separately at P&G and Rotman School of Management. It is rich in examples and practical advice that show how organizations of all sizes can move beyond visions and plans to create judiciously plotted winning strategies.” — Developing Leaders

Advance praise for Playing to Win:

Daniel H. Pink, author, Drive and A Whole New Mind
“Reading Playing to Win is like having prime seats at the Super Bowl of strategy. You’ll learn the strategies consumer goods powerhouse Procter & Gamble uses to get its innovative products into millions of homes—plus tested methods for winning your own marketplace contests. If you’re a marketer or a leader, you need to read this book.”

Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO, Tesco—
“This is the best book on strategy I have ever read. Lafley and Martin get to the heart of what’s important: how to make choices in order to control events rather than allowing events to control your choices. Everyone wants to win; this book sets down with calm authority the steps you must take to turn aspiration into reality.”

Clayton M. Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; author, The Innovator’s Dilemma
“Lafley and Martin teach us how to develop and then how to deploy strategy. Their recommendations apply at every level—corporation, business units, products, and teams. This is a great book.”

Chip Heath, coauthor, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
“Most authors conduct research before they write a book. Lafley and Martin went out and did something. They used their simple, subtle framework—Where will we play? How will we win?—to double the value of one of the world’s greatest businesses. And now they’re showing you how to do the same. Read this book. . . before your competitors find it.”

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO, Lego Group—
Playing to Win is a rare combination of depth of thinking and ease of use. It clearly explains what business strategy is and isn’t, and how to develop it. Lafley and Martin distill their hard-won experiences and offer insights, practical hands-on tools, and tips that will inspire and allow you to think strategically in new ways about your own business.”

Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO, General Electric—
“A great CEO and a renowned educator join forces to create a must-read for anyone thinking about strategy.”

Scott Cook, cofounder and Chairman of the Executive Committee, Intuit—
“Here is business strategy through the eyes of the man who led Procter & Gamble’s stunning turnaround and success in the 2000s and the strategist who advised and worked with him. Lush with insights that show the “what” and the “how” of two master strategists.”

James P. Hackett, President and CEO, Steelcase Inc.—
“Lafley and Martin have invested their respective careers in understanding the complexity of strategy. What has emerged in this seminal work is a simple and rich framework that can help business leaders think through strategic choices. It is an eminently helpful guide to choice making, which is the most essential part of leadership.”

Jim McNerney, President, CEO, and Chairman, Boeing—
Playing to Win is an insightful do-it-yourself guide that demystifies what it takes to craft, implement, and continuously improve effective business strategies. Using relevant, real-world examples, Lafley and Martin offer proven techniques for competing and winning in today’s challenging global business environment.”

Thomas Tull, founder and CEO, Legendary Pictures—
“I love this book; it is thought provoking and acts as a catalyst to ask questions—about ourselves and our business life course. In a day and age when information and instant communication are relentless components of business and our lifestyle, A. G. Lafley and Roger Martin suggest we take an important pause to actually question our strategic road maps and the associated plans we need in order to succeed in this marketplace.”

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