“Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works” by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin is an interesting and informative look at how strategic business decisions are made through examples by P & G between 2000 and 2009. A.G. Lafley is the former Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble and Roger L. Martin is the Dean of Rotman School of Management. The pair are extremely knowledgeable on the topic they are writing about, business strategy.
Several grounding concepts that I really liked, one of which is, winning should be at the heart of any strategy, and the other being, strategy = choice. The book then delves into what winning means, and then some key components to winning strategy: Where to Play, How to Win, Playing to Your Strengths, Managing What Matters, Thinking Through Strategy, Shortening Your Odds, and finally concludes with The Endless Pursuit of Winning. Throughout the book, the focus remains on the choices made and how those choices related to P&G winning.
The book contains many real life examples of things P&G did right, and some that the large corporation fell short on. These case studies illustrate the principles Lafley and Martin share, and made the book more interesting and enjoyable to read. The authors also do a good job of summarizing their key points in each chapter, and include extra essay lessons at the end of chapters. These “how-to-win dos and don’ts” contains some excellent gems for those that heed them and incorporate them into their own planning.
With this said, I do feel some of the lessons are more relevant and will resonate more with larger corporations and thus, executives of larger corporations really should heed to the successes and failures of P&G presented here. Smaller businesses, and solo entrepreneurs can learn from these, and should, but will have to adapt the lessons to their smaller and different playing field. The concepts are still important, but the examples are all of this huge retail corporation.
Procter & Gamble really is a huge success story. And out of anyone, these two men know as much or more than anyone about the strategic choices that helped P&G continue to thrive throughout the first decade of the 2000s. This book shares parts of that story, but more importantly, provides guidance to strategic choices that can help any business be more successful. Business leaders everywhere should learn from the examples in this book as they make the choices for their own companies that should be strategic and focused on winning.