Make the right choices to create a winning strategy by Kenneth Mikkelsen

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What makes good corporate strategy? Kenneth Mikkelsen interviews Roger Martin, Dean of Rotman School of Management about his book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works.

What makes good corporate strategy? Kenneth Mikkelsen interviews Roger Martin, Dean of Rotman School of Management about his book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works.

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  • 1. Make  the  right  choices  to  create  a  winning  strategy      By  Kenneth  Mikkelsen          8  April  2013       What  makes  good  corporate  strategy?  Kenneth  Mikkelsen  interviews  Roger  Martin,  Dean  of  Rotman  School   of  Management  about  his  book  Playing  to  Win:  How  Strategy  Really  Works.   What  makes  good  corporate  strategy?  It’s  a  question  that  haunts  many  leaders.  This  article  explores  the   five  strategic  choices  that  helped  the  multinational  consumer  goods  company  Procter  &  Gamble  turn  things   around  after  a  serious  setback  in  2000.  I  interviewed  Roger  Martin,  the  dean  of  Rotman  School  of   Management,  about  his  new  book  Playing  to  Win,  which  Martin  co-­‐authored  with  former  Procter  &  Gamble   CEO  Alan  G.  Lafley.   On  7  March  2000  Procter  &  Gamble  (P&G)  sent  shockwaves  through  the  business  world  when  it  announced   that  it  would  not  meet  its  quarterly  earnings  targets.  On  what  came  to  be  known  as  ‘Tide  Tuesday’,  P&G   lost  30  per  cent  of  its  share  value  in  one  day.   In  fact,  this  was  just  the  first  leg  of  a  journey  that  would  send  P&G  into  a  downward  spiral  propelled  by  a   growing  mistrust  among  investors.  In  June,  just  three  months  later,  things  got  worse  as  P&G  once  again   missed  its  projected  earnings  target.  As  a  result  Durk  Jager,  the  head  of  the  company,  resigned  with   immediate  effect.  Jager’s  replacement  was  Alan  G.  Lafley.  In  an  article  featured  in  Harvard  Business  Review   in  May  2009,  Lafley  described  the  situation  he  faced  as  the  new  CEO  of  the  company:   ‘Our  biggest  problem  in  the  summer  of  2000  was  not  the  loss  of  $85  billion  in  market  capitalization.  It  was  a   crisis  of  confidence.  Many  of  P&G’s  leaders  had  retreated  to  their  bunkers.  Business  units  were  blaming   headquarters  for  poor  results,  and  headquarters  was  blaming  the  units.  Investors  and  financial  analysts   were  surprised  and  angry.  Employees  were  calling  for  heads  to  roll.  Retirees,  whose  profit-­‐sharing  nest  eggs   had  been  cut  in  half,  were  even  angrier.’   Even  though  Lafley  would  rightfully  challenge  the  cliché  of  a  CEO  in  shining  armour  who  rides  in  and  turns   things  around  all  by  himself,  the  numbers  clearly  speak  of  the  transformation  that  P&G  went  through  while   Lafley  served  as  the  company’s  CEO.   Under  Lafley’s  leadership  from  2000  till  2010,  P&G  sales  doubled,  profits  quadrupled,  market  value   increased  by  more  than  $100  billion,  and  its  portfolio  of  billion-­‐dollar  brands  –  such  as  Pampers,  Olay,  and   Gillette  –  grew  from  10  to  24  as  a  result  of  P&G’s  focus  on  winning  strategic  choices,  consumer-­‐driven   innovation,  and  reliable,  sustainable  growth.  
  • 2. Playing  to  win   The  story  of  P&G’s  metamorphosis  is  intriguing.  It  is  a  prime  example  of  a  successful  turn-­‐around  realised   through  a  set  of  strategic  choices.  But  P&G  was  not  alone  in  defining  these  choices.  The  company  drew  on   the  expertise  of  some  of  the  world’s  leading  academic  thinkers,  among  them  the  father  of  modern   management,  Peter  Drucker,  and  strategy  mastermind  Michael  Porter.  But  Lafley’s  day-­‐to-­‐day  strategy   alter  ego  and  confidant  was  Roger  Martin,  then  a  consultant  at  Monitor  Group.  Today,  he  is  dean  of   Rotman  School  of  Management  and  is  honoured  as  one  of  the  world’s  top  management  thinkers.  The   relationship  between  the  two  men  stretches  back  25  years.   Recently,  Lafley  and  Martin  wrote  the  book  Playing  to  Win,  which  tells  the  story  of  the  strategic  choices   that  founded  P&G’s  transformation.  I  sat  down  with  Martin  and  asked  him  to  share  some  insights  about  the   framework  that  transformed  P&G  and  made  strategy  a  part  of  the  culture  and  thinking  of  the  company.   ‘Many  people  think  of  strategy  as  a  very  complicated  thing.  That  it  is  sort  of  a  chore,  in  as  much  as  it  is  not   very  enjoyable  or  useful.  The  purpose  of  our  book  is  to  make  strategy  simple,  fun,  and  effective.  I  don’t   want  strategy  to  be  complicated,  and  that  is  why  you’ll  see  phrases  like  “Where  to  Play”  and  “How  to  Win.”   They  are  not  convoluted  or  complicated  jargon;  they  are  simple.  By  making  it  about  choices  and  very  few   choices,  I  think  you  can  make  it  fun  and  enjoyable  to  consider  those  choices,  and  if  you  answer  those   choices,  you  can  have  a  great  and  effective  strategy.  In  doing  that,  what  we  wanted  to  do  is  hone  it  down;  if   it  is  about  choices,  what  are  the  very  few  choices  that  really  matter?’  Martin  explains.   In  Playing  to  Win  Lafley  and  Martin  talk  about  strategy  as  a  coordinated  and  integrated  set  of  five  choices:   identifying  a  winning  aspiration,  deciding  where  to  play,  working  out  how  to  win,  defining  core  capabilities,   and  recognising  what  management  systems  are  needed.  In  reality,  it  is  a  thought  pattern  that  people  can   use  to  see  the  bigger  picture  and  ask  the  right  questions  as  they  focus  on  important  strategic  decisions.   Strategy  is  an  integrated  cascade  of  choices     Smaller  companies  may  only  have  a  single  choice  cascade.  But  in  larger  companies,  there  are  multiple  levels   of  choices  or  nested  choice  cascades  at  the  corporate-­‐level,  sector-­‐level,  and  individual  brand-­‐level  that  all   interconnect  and  influence  each  other.   ‘Strategy  would  be  dead  easy  if  you  could  answer  those  questions  one  at  the  time  and  lock  and  load  each   as  you  go.  The  only  tricky  thing  about  strategy  is  that  they  all  interrelate.  They  have  to  fit  and  you  have  to   reinforce  them,  which  makes  strategy  less  of  a  lineal  project,  but  rather  an  iterate  one  that  you  have  to  be   comfortable  with.  Put  up  a  winning  aspiration  and  say:  “This  is  what  we  think,  what  we  would  like  to  do”  –   and  then  figure  out  where  to  play,  how  to  win,  and  how  to  make  that  happen.  If  there  isn’t  clarity,  modify  it   and  keep  going  back  and  around,’  Martin  emphasises.   The  notion  that  strategy  is  a  way  to  reduce  uncertainties  in  a  fast-­‐paced  world  doesn’t  rest  well  with   Martin.  He  thinks  that  uncertainty  is  an  often-­‐used  excuse  among  executives  to  convince  themselves  that   they  are  doing  the  right  things  by  not  making  the  necessary  choices.   ‘There  are  control-­‐oriented  people  who  really  want  it  to  be  true,  hope  that  it  is  true:  that  strategy  is  a  way   to  reduce  uncertainty.  It  is  like  pushing  water  uphill  –  it  is  always  hard  to  keep  water  at  the  top  of  the  hill.   So  go  with  the  flow,  instead  of  trying  to  get  rid  of  uncertainty,  understand  that  there  will  be  uncertainty.  
  • 3. That,  I  think,  is  a  more  healthy  approach.’   Winning  aspirations   The  five  basic  questions  outlined  in  Playing  to  Win  were  used  rigorously  to  guide  P&G’s  strategy.  In  June   2000,  when  Lafley  became  the  CEO,  the  company  was  over-­‐invested  and  overextended.  It  wasn’t  winning   with  those  who  mattered  most  –  consumers  and  customers.  According  to  the  authors,  the  first  question  –   What  is  our  winning  aspiration?  is  the  heart  of  any  strategy  and  sets  the  frame  for  all  the  other  choices.  A   company  must  seek  to  win  in  a  particular  place  and  in  a  particular  way.  If  it  doesn’t  seek  to  win,  it’s  wasting   its  resources.  But  to  be  most  helpful,  the  abstract  concept  of  winning  should  be  translated  into  defined   aspirations:  statements  about  the  ideal  future.   ‘We  used  the  word  “winning”  because  we  really  feel  it  is  important  …  to  try  and  win.  Not  because  we  like   the  idea  of  beating  other  people;  it  is  not  some  joy  of  grinding  other  people  into  dust,  but  winning  means   that  for  the  customers  you  serve,  you  have  a  better  value  proposition  than  anybody  else.  That  doesn’t   mean  you  are  going  to  crush  all  your  competitors.  There  will  be  competitors  that  will  have  other  customers,   other  than  your  customers,  that  will  like  them  better  than  you.  And  that  is  absolutely  fine.  A  winning   aspiration  is  not  just  to  play  better  than  we  used  to  play,’  Martin  explains.   Playing  to  Win  tells  the  story  of  Olay,  a  skin-­‐care  brand  in  P&G’s  portfolio  that  was  struggling  in  the  late   1990s.  It  experienced  a  declining  market  share  and  was  broadly  perceived  as  old-­‐fashioned  by  consumers  –   until  P&G  decided  to  tweak  its  strategy.  For  Olay,  the  winning  aspirations  were  market-­‐share  leadership  in   North  America,  $1billion  in  sales,  and  a  global  share  that  placed  it  among  the  market  leaders.   Winning  aspiration  dos  and  don’ts   • Do  play  to  win,  rather  than  simply  to  compete.  Define  winning  in  your  context,   painting  a  picture  of  a  brilliant,  successful  future  for  the  organisation.   • Do  craft  aspirations  that  will  be  meaningful  and  powerful  to  your  employees  and  to   your  consumers;  it  isn’t  about  finding  the  perfect  language  or  the  consensus  view,   but  is  about  connecting  to  a  deeper  idea  of  what  the  organisation  exists  to  do.   • Do  start  with  consumers,  rather  than  products,  when  thinking  about  what  it  means   to  win.   • Do  set  winning  aspirations  (and  make  the  other  four  choices)  for  internal  functions   and  outward-­‐facing  brands  and  business  lines.  Ask,  what  is  winning  for  this   function?  Who  are  its  customers,  and  what  does  it  mean  to  win  with  them?   • Do  think  about  winning  relative  to  competition.  Think  about  your  traditional   competitors,  and  look  for  unexpected  ‘best’  competitors  too.   • Don’t  stop  here.  Aspirations  aren’t  strategy;  they  are  merely  the  first  box  in  the   choice  cascade.       Where  to  play   The  choice  of  ‘where  to  play’  defines  the  playing  field  for  a  company.  It  is  a  question  of  what  business  you   are  really  in.  It  is  a  choice  about  where  to  compete  and  where  not  to  compete.  Basically,  it  is  about   understanding  that  you  can’t  be  all  things  to  all  people  if  you  want  to  be  successful.  To  define  this  choice,   leaders  must  look  for  answers  in  various  domains  such  as  geography,  specific  products  and  services,  
  • 4. consumer  segments,  distribution  channels,  and  value  chains.  It  is  a  discipline  that  requires  a  steadfast  focus   and  a  thorough  examination  of  the  market  playing  field.   ‘It  is  an  important  question  –  maybe  the  most  under-­‐recognised  question  in  strategy,  in  my  view.  Most   companies  seem  to  view  “where  to  play”  as  sort  of  ordained  by  God.  Like,  “Everyone  in  the  industry  plays   this  way,  therefore  we  shall  do  it  too”.  Many  of  the  cleverest  decisions  that  are  made  strategically  involve   picking  a  “where  to  play”  that  is  different  from  others  –  and  by  being  different  you  can  win  there.  In  the   case  of  Olay,  we  shifted  the  “where  to  play”  from  women  aged  50  and  above  seeking  a  wrinkle  treatment   to  women  aged  35–50  fighting  the  first  seven  signs  of  skin  ageing.  And  that  made  all  the  difference  in  the   world.  So,  those  “where  to  play”  choices  are  non-­‐trivial  and  can  make  a  big  difference,  and  they  are  subtle,’   says  Martin.   ‘Where  to  play’  dos  and  don’ts   • Do  choose  where  you  will  play  and  where  you  will  not  play.  Explicitly  choose  and   prioritise  choices  across  all  relevant  where  dimensions  (i.e.,  geographies,  industry   segments,  consumers,  customers,  products,  etc.).   • Don’t  embark  on  a  strategy  without  specific  ‘where’  choices.  If  everything  is  a   priority,  nothing  is.  There  is  no  point  in  trying  to  capture  all  segments.  You  can’t.   Don’t  try.   • Do  look  for  places  to  play  that  will  enable  you  to  attack  from  unexpected  directions,   along  the  lines  of  least  resistance.  Don’t  attack  walled  cities  or  take  on  your   strongest  competitors  head-­‐to-­‐head  if  you  can  help  it.   • Don’t  start  wars  on  multiple  fronts  at  once.  Plan  for  your  competitors’  reactions  to   your  initial  choices,  and  think  multiple  steps  ahead.  No  single  choice  needs  to  last   forever,  but  it  should  last  long  enough  to  confer  the  advantage  you  seek.   • Do  be  honest  about  the  allure  of  white  space.  It  is  tempting  to  be  the  first  mover   into  unoccupied  white  space.  Unfortunately,  there  is  only  one  true  first  mover  (as   there  is  only  one  low-­‐cost  player),  and  all  too  often,  the  imagined  white  space  is   already  occupied  by  a  formidable  competitor  you  just  don’t  see  or  understand.       How  to  win   ‘Where  to  play’  and  ‘how  to  win’  choices  complement  each  other  like  salt  and  pepper.  To  determine  ‘how   to  win’,  any  organisation  must  decide  what  will  enable  it  to  create  unique  value  and  sustainably  deliver  that   value  to  customers  in  a  way  that  is  distinct  from  its  competitors.  This  is  what  Michael  Porter  famously   coined  as  a  company’s  competitive  advantage.  For  Olay,  this  resulted  in  a  complete  makeover.  The  ‘how  to   win’  choices  were  to  formulate  genuinely  better  skincare  products  that  appear  to  fight  the  signs  of  ageing,   and  to  create  a  powerful  marketing  campaign  that  clearly  established  Olay  as  the  best  product  on  the   market.  This  also  involved  a  new  package  design  and  re-­‐calibrating  the  price  of  the  product.   ‘“How  to  win”  is  about  creating  a  superior  value  equation  for  the  customer.  In  the  case  of  Olay,  the  “how  to   win”  was  to  create  a  masstige  experience  in  the  normal  mass  channel.  This  meant  creating  a  product  of  the   sort  that  customers  would  buy  for  a  high  price  in  the  prestige  channel  –  with  the  quality,  the  packaging,  and   shelf  presence  that  they  would  find  in  the  prestige  channel,  but  in  the  mass  channel,’  Martin  explains.  
  • 5. The  masstige  experience  that  Martin  refers  to  was  P&G’s  strategy  to  bridge  the  mass  and  prestige  markets   and  sell  Olay  in  discount  stores,  drugstores  and  grocery  stores,  rather  than  entering  the  prestige  market   and  selling  through  department  and  specialty  stores.   ‘How  to  win’  dos  and  don’ts   • Do  work  to  create  new  ‘how  to  win’  choices  where  none  currently  exist.  Just   because  there  isn’t  an  obvious  ‘how  to  win’  choice  given  your  current  structure   doesn’t  mean  it  is  impossible  to  create  one  (and  worth  it,  if  the  prize  is  big  enough).   • But  don’t  kid  yourself  either.  If,  after  lots  of  searching,  you  can’t  create  a  credible   ‘how  to  win’  choice,  find  a  new  playing  field  or  get  out  of  the  game.   • Do  consider  ‘how  to  win’  in  conjunction  with  ‘where  to  play’.  The  choices  should  be   mutually  reinforcing,  creating  a  strong  strategic  core  for  the  company.   • Don’t  assume  that  the  dynamics  of  an  industry  are  set  and  immutable.  The  choices   of  the  players  within  those  industries  may  be  creating  the  dynamics.  Industry   dynamics  might  be  changeable.   • Don’t  reserve  questions  of  ‘where  to  play’  and  ‘how  to  win’  for  only  customer-­‐facing   functions.  Internal  and  support  functions  can  and  should  be  making  these  choices   too.   • Do  set  the  rules  of  the  game  and  play  the  game  better  if  you’re  winning.  Change  the   rules  of  the  game  if  you’re  not.     Building  capabilities   Capabilities  are  the  map  of  activities  and  competencies  that  critically  underpin  specific  ‘where  to  play’  and   ‘how  to  win’  choices.  Without  them  no  strategy  will  succeed.  In  the  case  of  Olay,  that  meant  putting   together  a  team  of  people  from  both  inside  and  outside  the  company  with  cutting-­‐edge  expertise  in   packaging  and  marketing.  This  also  involved  forming  partnerships  with  designers.   ‘This  question  relates  to  the  capabilities  P&G  needed  to  have  in  place  in  order  to  win  where  they  had   chosen  to  play,  and  to  meet  their  winning  aspirations.  In  that  case  we  had  to  develop  some  capabilities  on   producing  better  active  ingredients  that  allowed  us  to  compete  with  the  prestige  brands.  But  we  also  had   to  develop  capabilities  to  work  with  the  retailers  to  create  a  masstige  type  of  experience  in  those  stores,’   says  Martin.   The  choice  of  bringing  in  people  from  outside  P&G  wasn’t  just  practised  in  the  case  of  Olay.  As  CEO,  Lafley   challenged  the  company  to  reinvent  its  innovation  business  model  by  merging  P&G’s  internal  resources   with  outside  open  innovation,  referred  to  as  Connect  +  Develop.  At  the  time  P&G  estimated  that  for  every   P&G  researcher  there  were  200  scientists  or  engineers  elsewhere  in  the  world  who  were  just  as  good  –  a   total  of  perhaps  1.5  million  people  whose  talents  they  could  potentially  tap  into.  P&G  didn’t  just  ‘do  the   math’,  they  also  acted  on  it  when  Lafley  proclaimed  that  half  of  the  company’s  new  products  would  come   from  P&G’s  own  labs,  and  half  would  come  through  them.  Implementing  that  approach  has  later  made   P&G  a  well-­‐documented  archetype  for  open  innovation.   ‘What  Lafley  saw  in  that  capabilities  box  was:  “Wow,  do  we  ever  have  some  fantastic  capabilities,  but  we   also  have  significant  voids.”  So  what  do  we  do?  Do  we  build  all  of  them  ourselves  or  do  we  connect  and  
  • 6. develop  on  some  of  them?  Do  we  outsource  things?  That  really  was  an  obsession  about  him.  He  loves  P&G   and  he  loves  P&G  people.  But  the  thing  he  loves  least  is  when  they  get  closed  in  on  thinking:  “We  are  the   only  people  who  know  the  right  answer.”  He  can’t  stand  that  as  an  attitude,’  explains  Martin.   Building  capabilities  dos  and  don’ts   • Do  discuss,  debate,  and  refine  your  activity  system;  creating  an  activity  system  is   hard  work  and  may  well  take  a  few  tries  to  capture  everything  in  a  meaningful  way.   • Don’t  obsess  about  whether  something  is  a  core  capability  or  a  supporting  activity;   try  your  best  to  capture  the  most  important  activities  required  to  deliver  on  your   ‘where  to  play’  and  ‘how  to  win’  choices.   • Don’t  settle  for  a  generic  activity  system;  work  to  create  a  distinctive  system  that   reflects  the  choices  you’ve  made.   • Do  play  to  your  own,  unique  strengths.  Reverse  engineer  the  activity  systems  (and   ‘where  to  play’  and  ‘how  to  win’  choices)  of  your  best  competitors,  and  overlay   them  with  yours.  Ask  how  to  make  yours  truly  distinctive  and  value-­‐creating.   • Do  keep  the  whole  company  in  mind,  looking  for  reinforcing  rods  that  are  strong   and  versatile  enough  to  run  through  multiple  layers  of  activity  systems  and  keep  the   company  aligned.   • Do  be  honest  about  the  state  of  your  capabilities,  asking  what  will  be  required  to   keep  and  attain  the  capabilities  you  require.   • Do  explicitly  test  for  feasibility,  distinctiveness,  and  defensibility.  Assess  the  extent   to  which  your  activity  system  is  doable,  unique,  and  defendable  in  the  face  of   competitive  reaction.   • Do  start  building  activity  systems  with  the  lowest  indivisible  system.  For  all  levels   above,  systems  should  be  geared  to  supporting  the  capabilities  required  to  win.       Manage  what  matters   Operating  a  strategy  without  established  management  systems  and  supporting  structures  is  a  guaranteed   recipe  for  failure,  according  to  Martin  and  Lafley.  To  truly  win  in  the  marketplace,  a  company  needs  to  put   in  place  a  robust  management  system  in  order  to  foster,  support,  and  measure  the  strategy.  These   management  systems  are  needed  to  complete  the  strategic  choice  cascade  and  ensure  effective  action   throughout  the  organisation.  Martin  often  experienced  that  the  aspects  of  capabilities  and  management   systems  collide  with  the  positioning  strategy.   ‘In  the  world  of  strategy,  there  is  this  big  war  between  the  capabilities-­‐orientated  people,  who  have  a   resourced-­‐based  view  of  a  firm,  and  the  positioning  people,  who  focus  more  on  the  “where  to  play”  and   “how  to  win”.  I  think  what  manifests  in  our  model  of  thinking  about  strategy  is  that  it  is  obviously  both.  The   fact  that  the  academic  world  spent  much  of  its  time  in  a  big  food  fight  over  which  it  is,  is  sort  of  indicative   of  the  siloization  and  compartmentalisation  of  complex  problems.  In  my  mind  you  just  cannot  be  an   intelligent  positioning  strategist  or  an  intelligent  capabilities-­‐based  viewer  of  strategy;  neither  of  those  are   possible.  You  actually  have  to  have  both  sides  if  you  want  to  be  an  intelligent  strategist,’  Martin  argues.   P&G  attacked  this  by  establishing  a  new  human  resources  approach  and  developed  detailed  tracking   systems  to  determine  consumer  response.  At  the  same  time  a  tremendous  effort  was  made  to  simplify  the   strategy  dialogue,  and  enhance  the  employees’  understanding  of  the  innovation  process.  This  involved  
  • 7. fostering  an  assertive  inquiry  culture,  where  people  not  only  expressed  their  own  thinking,  but  also   explored  the  thinking  of  others.  In  the  case  of  Olay,  the  five  choices  paid  off  as  it  grew  from  a  struggling   $800  million  brand  into  a  $2.5  billion  brand.   Management  systems  and  measures  dos  and  don’ts   • Don’t  stop  at  capabilities;  ask  yourself  which  management  systems  are  needed  to   foster  those  capabilities.   • Do  continue  strategic  discussions  throughout  the  year,  building  an  internal  rhythm   that  keeps  focus  on  the  choices  that  matter.   • Do  think  about  clarity  and  simplicity  when  communicating  key  strategic  choices  to   the  organisation.  To  get  at  the  core,  don’t  overcomplicate  things.   • Do  build  systems  and  measures  that  support  both  enterprise-­‐wide  capabilities  and   business-­‐specific  capabilities.   • Do  define  measures  that  will  tell  you,  over  the  short-­‐  and  long-­‐run,  how  you  are   performing  relative  to  your  strategic  choices.       Leadership  lessons  from  P&G   Having  worked  for  more  than  25  years  as  an  outside  strategy  consultant  for  P&G,  Martin  has  a  unique   understanding  of  what  others  can  learn  from  the  company’s  quest  to  embed  strategy  as  an  integrated  part   of  the  culture  and  way  of  thinking.  In  Martin’s  mind,  the  best  companies  constantly  focus  on  staying   relevant  in  the  eyes  of  the  customers  and  keeping  things  simple.   ‘One  of  the  leadership  lessons  from  P&G  is  being  willing  to  tackle  things  in  a  holistic  fashion.  Locking  and   loading  on  something  and  then  moving  to  the  next  thing  and  the  next  thing  rarely  gets  you  what  you  really   want.  The  other  lesson  is  that  in  the  end  you  have  to  make  things  simple.  Organisations  do  not  win  on  the   basis  of  complicated  strategies.  Yes,  it  takes  some  complicated  thinking  and  willingness  to  have  a  bunch  of   balls  in  the  air  for  a  time.  But  in  the  end  if  things  aren’t  really  clear,  you  are  not  going  to  be  able  to  motivate   a  large  organisation  to  do  something  useful.  Using  really  simplifying  kind  of  catch  phrases  like  “the   consumer  is  boss”  and  “we  have  to  win  at  the  first  moment  of  truth”  along  with  “where  to  play”  and  “how   to  win”  were  very  important  in  P&G.  I  think  a  leader  needs  to  think  about  how  you  get  things  down  to  that   level  so  that  everybody  understands  the  consumer  is  boss  –  and  if  we’re  not  out  talking  to  her,  really   understanding  her,  and  listening  to  her,  we  will  never  win,’  Martin  outlines.   Challenging  the  way  leaders  think  is  a  common  thread  throughout  Playing  to  Win,  but  it  also  ties  in  with   previous  books  that  Martin  has  written.  Good  management  is  about  nothing  if  not  good  decision  making,   and  according  to  Martin  successful  business  people  engage  in  what  he  calls  integrative  thinking  –  the  ability   to  use  deductive  reasoning  to  extract  the  best  aspects  from  two  conflicting  ideas  to  come  up  with  an   alternative,  which  incorporates  the  strengths  of  both  ideas.  Integrative  thinking  is  a  prerequisite  for  making   sound  choices  as  a  leader  and  figuring  out  the  right  strategy.   ‘There  is  a  theme  that  runs  through  all  my  books  –  in  Opposable  Mind,  The  Design  of  Business,  and  Playing   to  Win  for  sure,  which  is  about  how  we  think.  Sadly,  most  of  us  spend  our  careers  being  taught  about  how   to  problem-­‐solve  and  the  real  question  is  problem-­‐framing.  I  think  that  great  strategy  comes  out  of  people   having  an  opposable  mind;  not  settling  for  the  either/or  that  everybody  else  does;  aiming  for  something  
  • 8. high;  creating  something  that  does  not  now  exist;  and  understanding  that  their  job  is  not  just  to  choose   among  existing  options.  Those  are  the  big  pieces  of  the  puzzle  for  a  successful  executive,’  Martin  finishes.      About  Roger  Martin     Roger  Martin  has  served  as  dean  of  the  Rotman  School  of  Management  at  the  University  of  Toronto  since   1998.  He  is  an  adviser  to  CEOs  of  several  major  global  corporations  on  strategy,  design,  innovation,  and   integrative  thinking,  including  the  successful  Danish-­‐based  toy  company  Lego,  who  recently  announced  a   record  result.   He  has  published  numerous  books,  including:  Fixing  the  Game,  Bubbles,  Crashes,  and  What  Capitalism  Can   Learn  From  the  NFL,  The  Design  of  Business:  Why  Design  Thinking  is  the  Next  Competitive  Advantage,  The   Opposable  Mind:  How  Successful  Leaders  Win  Through  Integrative  Thinking,  The  Responsibility  Virus:  How   Control  Freaks,  Shrinking  Violets  –and  The  Rest  Of  Us  –  Can  Harness  The  Power  Of  True  Partnership,  The   Future  of  the  MBA:  Designing  the  Thinker  of  the  Future,  and  DiaMinds:  Decoding  the  Mental  Habits  of   Successful  Thinkers.   In  2013  Roger  Martin  placed  third  on  the  Thinkers50  list,  a  biannual  ranking  of  the  world’s  most  influential   business  thinkers.   You  can  download  a  free  chapter  of  Playing  to  Win  here.     Further  information:  Roger  Martin’s  website.