Playing to Win – By A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by [Lafley, A.G., Martin, Roger L.]

This book gives you a clearer picture of what strategy actually is: a set of interconnected choices that help you gain the advantage in your situation. Mostly talks about companies, but can be applied to individuals.

Strategy is assessed as answers to the following five questions:

  1. What’s your winning aspiration? In other words, what is “winning” for you? Is it becoming a famous author in a certain subject or industry? Is it dominating a certain market? Is it winning a certain race or competition?
  2. Where will you play? What’s your playing space? Is it on Amazon, or through blog promotion? Is it in a specific niche, or a mass market? Is it through a national competition or local ones?
  3. How will you win? Will you win by getting a big publisher to publish your book, or will you self-publish and promote your book online? Will you build a new product that disrupts the market, or will you dramatically change your customer service?
  4. What capabilities do you have or need? By capabilities, the authors don’t simply mean all of your “skills” and “competencies.” They mean those skills and competencies that will help you stand out and position you for winning. If you’re a writer, it might be your particular style or your connections within a certain industry. If you’re a business, it might be your customer service or your team. If you’re in a race or competition, it might be your level of focus or your ability to think quickly.
  5. What systems do you need to build and maintain these capabilities? Is it a writing routine (e.g. 1,000 words a day)? Is it a product development process for generating and implementing ideas? Is it a workout routine?

According to the authors, answering these questions is not just a once-and-done thing. It’s an iterative process, meaning that you will have to go through the process of asking and answering over and over again until you win. But every time you do it, you’ll have a much stronger sense of how you can win.

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