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Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
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Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,703 ratings  ·  227 reviews
This is A.G. Lafley's guidebook. Shouldn't it be yours as well?

Winning CEO A.G. Lafley is now back at the helm of consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble. If you want to know the strategy he?ll use to restore P&G to its former dominance?listen to this audiobook.

"Playing to Win," a noted "Wall Street Journal" and "Washington Post" bestseller, o
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Published September 2nd 2014 by Brilliance Audio (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  3,703 ratings  ·  227 reviews


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Synexe
Jun 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE MAIN IDEA

Strategy is about choices. It’s about knowing what to do and what not to do and when. Being able to make these choices well and execute them effectively over time is the hallmark of great companies.

INTERESTING TIDBIT

The authors are a high-powered duo with A.G. Lafley being the former Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Roger Martin being the Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Interestingly enough though, A.G. Lafley
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Andy
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was better than most business books, because it gave specific examples (with the stories behind everyday products) to back up the thesis. Other reviews here summarize the contents well.
Tõnu Vahtra
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not so impressed by this book at first, it's written by a longstanding Procter&Gamble Chairman and CEO, I could not relate the examples and dynamics easily with the digital enterprise and also several examples were not standing out that much. My opinion turned before the end during the part about selecting and verifying your strategy in a way that does not exclude potential good ideas and results in a group or individual selecting the best outcome. At first all ideas should be brought ...more
Jay Oza
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want have a good conversation with business executives --- whether you are a salesman, consultant, mid level manager or even an individual contributor --- you need business acumen otherwise you will quickly lose credibility with them. The antidote to losing your credibility with C-level types is to read "Playing To Win" by A. G. Lafley and Roger Martin.

The business executives expect you to understand them in the way they think and approach their business, which means you have to know and
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Alain Burrese
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works” by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin is an interesting and informative look at how strategic business decisions are made through examples by P & G between 2000 and 2009. A.G. Lafley is the former Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble and Roger L. Martin is the Dean of Rotman School of Management. The pair are extremely knowledgeable on the topic they are writing about, business strategy.

Several grounding concepts that I really liked, o
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Ron Bronson
If you were with us for the first post in the #28DaysSolo series, I mentioned one of the goals of this project is to complete a book a week. This week’s entry is the newly released book by A.G. Lafley, the former chairman and CEO of Proctor & Gamble and Roger Martin, give us this outstanding look at strategy from the trenches called Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works.

Akin to James C. Collins Good To Great, Playing To Win is a business book you can apply to any industry. It
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Lone Wong
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, strategy
What is a strategy?

In this book, the author articulated the strategy is an integrated set of choices that uniquely positions the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage and superior value relative to the competition.

Yes, a strategy it's a choice. To choose where to compete, how to compete and what to compete and how to win in this competition. It's simple and brevity to assimilate strategy thinking. A strategy is not what people used to imagine of long hours meeti
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Gerard Chiva
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's probably one of the best books on strategy I've read so far. It includes examples that connect with the clear and practical methodology.

Compared to other strategy books this is practical and it is obvious it comes from real-world experience.

One thing I really value about this book is that it has been written by an ex-CEO of P&G and one of the strategy consultants who work with him for several years.
Mila Goodman
Wish this was available when I worked with P&G as a client. A must read for anyone who does work with them and a reminiscent journey for those who have. I wish there were more one pagers and charts to summarize and frame up the key parts but appreciated the pounding repetition so that by the end, I remembered what is most important ... hire an outside strategy consultant ;).
RC1140
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very much a 3.5 star book when looking back , much of what was presented was clear and had quite clear case studies showing how and why these ideas were picked. Strategy seems to be made into this thing that everyone needs to know and can solve all your problems, but when put in the context of playing to win, it suddenly becomes so much more applicable. There is actually a fair amount that is discussed in this book around building new markets and leading companies out of others which I ...more
gabriel morales
Not terrible
Jim Smitherman
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book. The reverse engineering question: what would have to be true...? Is an eye opener for this consultant.
Blundell
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Really enjoyable book, you can see the stepping stones of strategy and what it takes to go from one to the next, I like the repetitiveness of explaining what to do as well, really drills it into you.
Marks54
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a general audience book on corporate strategy written by A.G. Lafley, who was CEO at P&G until 2010, in conjunction with Roger Martin, who was CEO at the Monitor Consulting firm until he became Dean of the Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto.

The book presents a general framework for making strategic decisions at the level of the product, business, group, or multi-business (or corporate) actor. The logic is one of applied economics, in which the objectives
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Paul W
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
‘Strategy is not complex. But it is hard.’ With these words Martin sets out a design view of strategy based on a cascade of five inter-related choices: What is our winning aspiration? Where will we play? How will we win? What capabilities must be in place? What Management systems are required? Martin uses the application of this framework at P&G to illustrate this framework.
The cascade of choice framework that Martin outlines provides a process for choosing between possibilities for wh
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Gene Babon
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strategy
Leaders lead, and a good place to start leading is in strategy development for your business.
A.G. Lafley lead Proctor & Gamble for nearly a decade helping to double sales and quadruple profits. After retiring, he recently stepped back into the leadership role. He has teamed with such notables as Clayton Christensen in innovation, Tim Brown in design and others. Here, he partners with Roger Martin (of Michael Porter's Monitor Group) to discuss P&G's approach to strategy.

That is the minor d
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Reynaldo
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the strategic model that Hewlett Packard chose to use for the transformation of the company and one of the reason why I decided to read the book. In my opinion the model is quite solid, specially for the first 4 questions: 1) what is our winning aspiration?, 2) where will we play?, 3) how will we win? and 4) what capabilities must be in place? . However , for the last question 5) what management systems are required? The book doesn't cover the topics deeply; it mentions the importance of ...more
John Doyle
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detailed descriptions of P&G's strategic planning processes, including a compelling summary of signs that your strategy is poor vs strong. Many recognizable pitfalls described here in a clear way. Especially enjoyed the practice at P&G of "assertive inquiry," which dictates that leaders take clear positions with conviction but always also ask the question "what am I missing?" when in group discussions. It's a simple practice to move culture away from pure advocacy and defensiveness to an ...more
Vikram Kalkura
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Playing to win is a book to become a winner. The ceo of P & G tells about the strategy he uses to make it a billion dollar company. Great to here about he got competitive products like Gillette and liquid Tide and made them a winner in its class. Great examples on how he made olay a winner for all class. Lafley and Martin did write this incredibly great and they are the best in the business in how to implement the strategy for better. Small business and upcoming ventures can benefit from thi ...more
David Marlow
Playing to win explains the introduction to Proctor & Gamble, a robust strategic creation. Real good book to bring clarity to your strategy and being able to communicate this across.

I guess it's ok as a book but found this was far too focused on a couple of case studies. The principles and diagrams were awesome. Drawback I felt you could get away with just reading the summary at the end of each chapter and looking for the diagrams.
Louis-philippe Baraby
This strategy book was resourceful as it outlined to-the-point ideas and concepts. Many reviews on Goodreads say that they can't connect the concepts to other businesses: they're wrong and didn't reflect long and hard. No matter what your background is, this book will teach you a great deal of strategy fundamentals.
Cara
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book and it is interesting to read about strategy at one company. I'm curious if you could apply these principles to a professional services company verses a major selling of products. All in all, a good read and compelling as to change a huge global corporation to change course, grow stinger and more relevant while still relying one a hundred plus year of company culture.
Kevin McDonagh
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Very interesting to hear how an organisation as large as P&G can organise it's thinking which is no small feat. The message is clear, driving and usefully actionable. You'll be ready and primed to 'WIN' after reading that word machine gun fired repeatedly over these 270 pages.
Mike Adeleke
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You must always learn from the greats and there are few companies greater than P&G. Learning from their CEO made me feel like I was able to sneak into the back Harvard Business School class. This is one of those books necessary to periodically read if you want to build a great organization.
Elina Ishchenko
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, simple and inspiring book on strategy: it explains what strategy is and isn't, how to develop, sharp and bring effective strategy to life in any organization. The approach/ all tools are heavily illustrated with relevant and real P&G case studies.
InvestingByTheBooks.com
I am often reminded, thru disparaging remarks - not seldom summarized as “fluff” - that corporate strategy is not a popular concept by many, maybe even the majority of us. Strangely enough, it still surprises me. Strategy is about making choices, about improving your odds. Obviously, you need to make choices, prioritize, and focus to win. To me, the alternative - to hold all options open, is like practicing tennis, football and baseball every third time. But, to be fair, many of us have been thr ...more
Christian Turcu
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Playing to Win (abstract of the first chapter)

By the late 1990s it became clear that Procter & Gamble really needed to win in skin care. Skin care constitutes about a quarter of the total beauty industry and has the potential to be highly profitable. And skin care was the company’s weak link. In particular, Oil of Olay – a low-end skin care product that sold for about $5 in the drug and grocery stores – was struggling. It was seen as old-fashioned and no longer relevant. It had c
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Jeremy
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started out just okay for me. It was heavy on Proctor & Gamble, and I don't work in a similar industry or a similarly sized company. There wasn't much in the way of takeaways for me. The last chapter got much better. Here are some of my notes:

In strategy, there are no absolute answers or sure things, and nothing lasts forever; a successful outcome is not guaranteed. Building a strategy is about shortening your odds.

The most important question may be "what wo
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Kikun123
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely a great book to read for those new to business strategy such as myself. I feel what the book does well is encouraging people to hold true to universal, sound strategic principles such as having aspirations, knowing you are playing against and why you should care about management of your systems.

The book gives you a framework to start thinking about strategy rather than a what-to-do book. Personally, I think this is the right way to teach strategy, as it encourages you think o
...more
Angela Lam
A very good framework on strategy, breaking down a complex topic to show how all the parts link together and what to do about them. It helps that the authors are former-CEO of P&G and a former-Dean of a business school, as it gives a nice blend of mental frameworks + real-life practical pointers. The lessons from P&G were like powerful case studies to help us see the framework being applied.

I particularly like how the framework can be applied to both small business (just 1 choice cascad
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Reading Guide 2 10 Oct 18, 2013 07:31PM  

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“The heart of strategy is the answer to two fundamental questions: where will you play, and how will you win there?” 6 likes
“Six Strategy Traps

1) The do-it-all strategy: failing to make choices, and making everything a priority. Remember, strategy is choice.

2) The Don Quixote strategy: attacking competitive "walled cities" or taking on the strongest competitor first, head-to-head. Remember, where to play is your choice. Pick somewhere you can have a choice to win.

3) The Waterloo Strategy: starting wars on multiple fronts with multiple competitors at the same time. No company can do everything well. If you try to do so, you will do everything weakly.

4) The something-for-everyone strategy: attempting to capture all consumer or channel or geographic or category segments at once. Remember, to create value, you have to choose to serve some constituents really well and not worry about the others.

5) The dreams-that-never-come-true strategy: developing high-level aspirations and mission statements that never get translated into concrete where-to-play and how-to-win choices, core capabilities, and management systems. Remember that aspirations are not strategy. Strategy is the answer to all five questions in the choice cascade.

6) The program-of-the-month strategy: settling for generic industry strategies, in which all competitors are chasing the same customers, geographies, and segments in the same way. The choice cascade and activity system that supports these choices should be distinctive. The more your choices look like those of your competitors, the less likely you will ever win.”
5 likes
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