MGMT 704 Management and Leadership

MGMT 704: Management and Leadership

Lecture Notes: Article 1, Seminar 3

A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin, “Chapter 1: Strategy is Choice,” Playing to Win, Boston, Harvard Business Press, 2013, pp. 7-34

(Page 14) Strategy is a set of choices about winning. It positions a company to earn a sustainable competitive advantage and superior value when compared to rivals.

(Pages 14 to 15) Strategy aims to answer five interrelated questions:

  1. What is the winning goal?
  2. Where will the company play? (which markets to play or not)
  3. How will the company win?
  4. What capabilities must be in place? What assets? Require people?
  5. What management systems are required?

Winning Goal

(Page 18) Determining the winning goal sets the frame for all other choices. A company seeks to win by choosing where it will play and how it will win.

(Pages 18 to 19) If a company does not seek to win, it is just wasting time and resources.

Where to Play

(Page 20) Where to play represents the set of choices that narrow the competitive field. A company must decide where it will compete:

  • In which markets;
  • With which customers;
  • In which distribution channels;
  • In which product categories; and
  • At which stage in the industry.

No company can be all things to all people and still win.

How to Win

(Page 24) Where to play determines the playing field, how to win defines the choices for winning on that field.

(Page 25) A company must decide what will enable it to create unique value to consumers and deliver that value in a way that is sustainable and distinct from other competitors.

Core Capabilities

(Page 27) Capabilities refer to the scope of activities that will enable a company to win on the field it chooses to play. Companies must choose which activities it will do and which activities it will not do.

Management Systems

(Page 29) Management systems support the strategy by making sure that:

  • The choices are communicated throughout the whole company;
  • Employees are trained to deliver;
  • Plans are made to invest in capabilities over time; and
  • Progress is measured.

Summing Up

(Page 32) Determining strategy is not a one-way, linear process. It is a holistic approach with interlinking components.

(Page 34) There is no such thing as the perfect strategy. A company’s strategy – its set of choices – must be as distinct as the company itself.


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