cover image Playing to Win: 
How Strategy Really Works

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin. Harvard Business Review (Perseus, dist.), $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4221-8739-5

Amid the profusion of strategy books, this new offering by former Procter & Gamble CEO Lafley (coauthor of The Game-Changer) and Martin (dean of the Rotman School of Management and author of Fixing the Game) is a clear standout, sure to take its place on business students’ bookshelves next to Mike Porter’s classic, Competitive Strategy. This engaging look at how strategy really works draws on academic theory, but is deeply grounded in real life corporate lessons (including mistakes) learned at P&G both before and throughout Lafley’s tenure, during which time Martin served as an adviser to the firm. The authors ask basic, practical questions that separate true strategy from mission, vision, or planning, asserting that the essence of strategy is about winning and the tough choices leaders and organizations need to make to achieve that victory. Theoretical concepts about how to win in what space come to life through entertaining and engrossing stories of how P&G developed or positioned well-known brands as Bounty, Swiffer, Force Flex, and Oil of Olay. This collection of insights and captivating examples about strategy is a must-read for leaders at any level in the for-profit or not-for-profit world. Agent: Tina Bennett, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Feb.)