| Playing to Win

There are 5 choices you need to make in order to have a winning business strategy.

That’s the premise of the book Playing To Win, written by two guys who know a lot about winning – former Rotman School of Business Dean Roger Martin, and the former CEO of Proctor and Gamble, A.G. Lafley.

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Taking the time to define and refine your business strategy is tough, especially when you feel like it’s taking all of your effort just to make sure the wheels don’t fall off the wagon. (I don’t know about you, but that’s the way I feel most of the time.)

But the strategy choices you make can make or break your business, so they deserve your attention. Even if you have to carve out time on nights and weekends to get it done.

The choice that made the biggest impact on me was deciding what your core capabilities are. And although it’s not from the book, there’s a great quote from Jeff Bezos I used in the summary to illustrate the point:

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. …

[I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

Gaining this type of clarity around your core capabilities, and the other 4 choices you need to make, should be one of your top priorities.

Time to get after it.

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