How to develop a strategy that wins in competitive markets

This episode is with Roger Martin, writer, strategy advisor and in 2017 was named the #1 management thinker in the world, he is former Dean and Institute Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada, he is a trusted strategy advisor to the CEOs of companies worldwide including Procter & Gamble, Lego and Ford, and he’s the author of 12 books including Playing To Win – how strategy really works. This is a discussion about how to develop a strategy that wins in competitive markets.


You’re listening to The Growth Manifesto Podcast, a Zoom video series brought to you by Webprofits – a digital growth consultancy that helps global and national businesses attract, acquire, and retain customers through digital marketing.

Hosted by Alex Cleanthous.


  • 00:01:19 Roger Martin’s introduction to the Growth Manifesto Podcast
  • 00:02:10 How do you define strategy?.
  • 00:03:33 Strategy does not always assume that there is a competitive landscape or that you have a competitor
  • 00:05:57 How do you define your “where to play” in your strategy?
  • 00:07:33 Roger unpacks the confusion between “strategy” and “planning”
  • 00:10:37 How the military definition of strategy relates to the business definition of strategy
  • 00:15:55 What do you need to create a winning strategy?
  • 00:19:06 Roger explains the “How might we?” questions in strategy
  • 00:20:25 How many possibilities should a strategy session come up with?
  • 00:23:24 Should companies try to win in just one area with their strategy or can they play across many different areas?
  • 00:27:50 According to Roger, you need to pick a “where” in which you aspire to be number 1 in share for a successful strategy
  • 00:30:29 In strategy, you need to have a winning aspiration that helps you pick a “where to play” and a “how to win”
  • 00:31:39 How Roger sees good business strategy as a positive force for humanity
  • 00:33:30 How do we choose the one idea that has the best likelihood of success amongst all the possibilities in our strategy?
  • 00:35:55 How long does the process of choosing the best idea in our strategy usually take?
  • 00:37:58 Roger talks about how clever entrepreneurs can enable the world to “de-risk” from whatever it is that they’re doing or selling
  • 00:44:01 Strategy is an exercise in shortening your odds
  • 00:45:51 Roger explains why it’s a tricky time for big companies these days in terms of taking risks due to smaller companies trying to disrupt industries
  • 00:50:12 Roger and Alex talk about some of the measures big companies can take to protect themselves from the small disruptors
  • 00:52:08 Once you’ve established what to do or which direction to take your strategy, how do you actually win?
  • 00:55:49 When you find out that your strategy doesn’t fit, do you simply adjust the strategy or go through the whole process again?
  • 00:57:50 How can management systems help with your strategy?
  • 01:05:15 Roger talks about how management systems are the hardest and most boring part to work on to ensure your strategy succeeds
  • 01:08:35 According to Roger, when you’re the market leader in your industry, you always have to be on the lookout for different kinds of competitors
  • 01:09:58 How do you measure strategy?
  • 01:13:51 Roger believes that companies that are trying to make the world a better place by being good to the rest of humanity are more likely to create shareholder value
  • 01:17:13 What’s the one thing you’d want our listeners to do?

Adrian Clark

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