In the book ‘Playing to Win’, Martin and Lafley highlight 5 important questions leaders should ask. Let’s look at these questions.

The first is what are you trying to achieve. What’s your mission, your vision, your grandest goal? You should be clear about this because you want it to shape what you do to get there. As Stephen Covey taught many years ago, you should begin with the end in mind.

The second question is where will you play? What industry or industry segment are you aiming to serve? What’s the geographical, economic, and demographic location of your market? Who are these people, what do they need, and how can you help them? And it’s equally important to know where you will not play.

The third question is how will you win? What is it about the business that makes you different from your competitors? What is the unique advantage your clients get from dealing with you?

Martin and Lafley insist that knowing what you’re trying to achieve, where you will play, and how you will win are fundamental choices that drive your strategy. Being strategic means making choices that align with how you answer these questions.

According to Martin and Lafely, strategic thinking demands we consider the capabilities needed for success. It might not be hard to think of the most obvious ones, but some of the important ones may not be obvious.

One of the privileges I have had over the past two years is to co-host the @Humanised Workforce – Future You podcast with my colleague, @Craig Saphin. Many of our guests have demonstrated what strategic thinking looks and sounds like in practice. They share many capabilities that have led to their success. One of these is adaptability – being able to pivot to take advantage of new opportunities. I recommend listening to some of these interviews.

The final issue to which the authors refer relates to the management systems required to implement the organisational strategy. This is an important piece because you can’t be operationally effective without good management. One thing to consider here is managing change within the organisation.

Managing change is not easy because people are complex and, often, they don’t want to change how, when, or where they work. You need to create readiness for change if you want it to go well. This is my specialty area so reach out if you need some ideas on how to do this.

Why am I highlighting these 5 questions? Because good strategic choices underpin change readiness.

The topic of strategy may not be the flavour of the month, but it is nonetheless important. I will write more about it in future posts.

Steve Barlow
Author: Steve Barlow

Steve heads up The Change Gym. He is a change readiness specialist. You can contact him at