A playbook for Strategy, Summary

A playbook for strategy 11/14/2013 The article discusses the five essential questions at the heart of any winning strategy. The author believes that answering these five questions can define and create a successful strategy of an organization, no matter what type, size or context it is. The first question asks after the winning aspiration. Most companies have a general or abstract mission, state or vision that makes no reference to competitions, customers or to winning. The author believes, that if you don’t set out to win, you rarely will.

That’s why a aspiration always has to be defined very clear and detailed. The second questions is “Where will you play? ”. It determines where an organization will compete, regarding to markets, customers, channels, product categories and the vertical stages of its industry. This choice is the careful consideration of a set of possibilities together. The third question, that needs to be answered is “How will you win? ”. Together with the “Where? ” aspect this question forms the very heart of strategy. It defines the method by which an organization will win and depends very much on the “playing field” of an organization.

To answer this question a company has to figure out its competitive advantage and then build on it. To be successful the “how-to-win” strategy needs to be very difficult to copy and very unique. The fourth questions asks after the capabilities that must be in place. Core capabilities are a subset of capabilities that truly matter and make the difference between winning and losing. To determine this capabilities an organization has to find out at what it needs to be distinctively good in to play and win how it wants it.

The author gives an example by the P&G Company, that has the following capabilities: deep customer understanding, innovation, brand building, go-to-market ability and global scale. The last question is “What management systems are required? ” The management systems are the systems that build, support and measure a strategy. Without these the strategy will only be a wish list. An organizations needs a robust process for creating, reviewing and communicating about strategy. It needs structure and specific measures. All these questions can be understood as a reinforcing cascade.

One question builds on the context of the another question. The intent is to provide a clear and powerful framework for thinking about winning choices. With these five questions strategy can be demystified. In my opinion the article gives a good summary about what leads an organization to success. But it is way too general too use it as a “playbook for developing a strategy”. The questions are formulated very universally, which is good, because they are applicable for every organization, but even in the explaining there is no information given about finding the answers.

I think it would be very helpful to give a more detailed guide for the reader. What I also don’t like, is that the almost only example is the P&G Case, which is on the one hand good, because it keeps the article simple but on the other hand would it be more interesting to read more about other cases to give this article more personality. I agree to the five questions model, because every company should have a very clear defined goal that explains where it wants to go and how.

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