Playing To Win

I Have a View Worth Hearing, But I Might be Missing Something

Source: iStock

A reader recently asked me: “How should practitioners think about diversity strategy as well as the role of diversity in strategy development? I thought the question was terrific — both timely and important. So, I decided to dedicate my 44th Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) to Diversity & Strategy. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

I will start with the second part of the question (diversity in strategy development) because the answer to it has implications for the first part of the question (diversity strategy).

Diversity in Strategy Development

The short answer to the…


Playing To Win

Clarifying the Place of the Missing Function

Copyright: Roger L Martin, 2021

Ever since I started my stint as a business school Dean in 1998, I have thought more about the sales function because only then did I come to realize that it was the missing function at business schools. Because I think it is important to understand the critical link between strategy and sales, I have dedicated my 43rd Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) piece to Playing to Win & Sales: Clarifying the Place of the Missing Function. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

The Missing Function

When I took my MBA, there was no…


Playing To Win

How to Ace the Can’t/Won’t Test

Copyright: Roger L. Martin, 2021

I have mentioned the Can’t/Won’t Test in passing a number of times in previous Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) pieces (here, here, here & here). A number of readers have asked me to go deeper on it, so I have decided to make my 42nd PTW/PI on Can Your Strategy Pass Its Most Important Test. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

Why This Test is So Important

As I have often emphasized, the heart of strategy is a well-matched Where-to-Play/How-to-Win (WTP/HTW) pair. That means for a given product/service, for a given customer set, the…


Playing To Win

Mastering the Role of Branding in Strategy

Source: Roger L. Martin, 2021

I get asked many questions about brands and their role in Playing to Win strategy. Branding is typically viewed as something that only B2C companies do to differentiate themselves. That doesn’t tell nearly enough of the story. That is why I have dedicated my 41st Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) piece to It’s All About Confidence: Mastering the Role of Branding in Strategy. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

The Value of Brands

Every year, Forbes publishes a list of the most valuable brands in the world. They range across industries from #1 Apple…


Playing To Win

Taming the Enemy of Effective Strategy

Source: G2 Learn Hub (https://learn.g2.com/income-statement-example)

The epitome of waste occurs when human effort is expended on an activity that produces worse outcomes than doing nothing at all. I have already chronicled one of the biggest wastages of effort in business: pay for performance (PfP) systems. The other giant waste of time and energy is revenue forecasting, which makes it harder to have an effective strategy. Because I can’t stand wasted human effort, I am dedicating my 40th Playing to Win/Practitioners Insights (PTW/PI) to The Delusion of Revenue Forecasting. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

Two Sections of the Income…


Playing To Win

Overcoming The Modern Strategy Challenge

Source: Roger L. Martin

This week, I am dedicating my 39th Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) to a critical tension in modern strategy that needs to be recognized, grasped, and tackled. To survive and prosper, every organization must succeed in Balancing Exploration and Exploitation. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

The Original Insight

The original insight is courtesy of the late James March, a fascinating professor jointly appointed at the Stanford Graduate Schools of both Business and Education. I got to know him through one of his PhD students and collaborator of mine, Hilary Austen. While not widely…


Playing To Win

How to Make the Most of the Combination

Source: AgileAlliance.org

I am frequently asked a consistent genre of question: How, if at all, does concept x or framework y fit with Playing to Win. For instance, how about Integrative Thinking, Design Thinking, Pay for Performance or Agile? I have already written on the first three in the Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) series. So, I have decided to make my 38th PTW/PI on Playing to Win & Agile. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

What is Agile?

For the those who aren’t already aficionados, Agile is software development doctrine that dates from the release…


Playing To Win

It Impedes Playing to Win!

Copyright Roger L. Martin, based on data from: Donald Roy, Quota Restriction and Goldbricking in a Machine Shop, American Journal of Sociology, 1952

I am frequently asked about strategy and pay for performance. By and large, the questions aren’t at all neutral. The tend to be phrased as: Isn’t it really important to have pay for performance to get your strategy executed? It isn’t, as I will discuss in my 37th Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) piece: It’s Time to Accept that Pay for Performance Doesn’t Work. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

An Article of Faith

We have long taken it as an article of faith that if you want performance against your strategy, you have…


Playing To Win

The Secret to Making Strategy Choices Even Better

Copyright Roger L. Martin, 2021

I frequently get asked a question about questions: What questions should I ask when I am reviewing a strategy? Because of that consistent interest, I am dedicating my 36th Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI) piece to Asking Great Strategy Questions. (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

Three Categories of Questions

I am often asked to evaluate strategies, whether for clients, students, or friends. Rather than focus primarily on whether the strategy is good or bad, I focus on asking questions with the intention of guiding the authors toward their goal of creating great strategies…


Playing To Win

What’s Next After Strategy?

Copyright: Roger L. Martin, 2021

The interplay of strategy and planning is fraught with confusion. A testament to the interest in the subject is that Strategy vs. Planning: Complements not Substitutes is the second most popular of my first 34 Playing to Win/Practitioner Insights (PTW/PI). Another piece related to the topic, Strategic Choice Chartering, is also highly read, reinforcing the level of interest. Still, I get questions, lots of good questions, on the relationship between strategy and planning. So, my 35thPTW/PI is on From Strategy to Planning: What is Next After Strategy? (Links for the rest of the PTW/PI series can be found here.)

Going…

Roger Martin

Professor Roger Martin is a writer, strategy advisor and in 2017 was named the #1 management thinker in world. He is also former Dean of the Rotman School.

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