On Strategy: For what do you strategize?

I love to reach airport early. It helps me approach my travel without the last minute rush. More importantly it allows me to spend lot more time800px-Chelsea_on_Tour_-_Barcelona_311006 at the airport book store. Airport book stores are rather special because for some reason the new arrivals seem to hit the stands here before the city retail outlets. So here I was this morning at the Chennai airport, on my way to Ahmadabad to attend a conference. And I made my way to the  bookstore with enough time to spare.

Many books caught my attention, but I kept coming back to this book , ‘Playing to Win’ by A.G. Lafley, and Roger L. Martin. The book is released by Harvard Business Review Press, and I found the blurb on the book very interesting. Obviously, this book has got on to my ‘must read’ list. You should soon be seeing a review on this in the blog’s Books and Me section. However this post is not about the book. It is about the thought that came to me sometime later, as I waited for my boarding announcement.

As a professor who teaches strategy, I find myself spending a lot of time discussing and thinking around what strategy ought to mean to a firm.A key question that came to my mind today was  ‘For what should you strategize – for winning or for playing?’  Being a person with a philosophical bent I feel it should be the latter.  Beyond the play of words – the choice between ‘Winning’ or ‘Playing’ changes the rules, the outlook, the prize, the field, the motivation and the spirit of the game. I know this thought is not going to leave the labyrinth of my mind any time soon, before it extracts the relevant attention and thoughts.  As they mature I hope to share them with you and seek your inputs to refine them further.

In the meantime I thought I would put this question to you for your consideration:  For what do YOU Strategize? For what SHOULD you strategize?

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4 thoughts on “On Strategy: For what do you strategize?

  1. To play.. I feel mind will be open & free when we want to play… mind will be pressured and some energy will be lost when we want to win…

    Playing with good strategy and focus will bring success mostly..

    Also, when strategy is to win, they would miss to plan for failure scenario most probably..

  2. One more point, many times I feel, Google / Apple strategy is to play (as we see some innovation in their products) and Microsoft strategy is to WIN (as we rarely see innovation)… Microsoft is hardly successful in their business other than OS…

    1. Vijay, Thanks for taking time to share this wonderful view. It gives a lot more to think as an extension. Some thoughts that came to me was – when you look at innovation as improving what you are doing, arising from the need to become better – that is in the spirit of playing. It comes naturally and is enjoyable. When we innovate under the pressure to stay on top or beat competition – it becomes that much more stressful. In innovation and in other activities, in life and in business – when you approach everything with the sense of play – it becomes beautiful, zero stress and enjoyable! Thanks for triggering these thoughts!

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