Author Archives: Matthew E May

Strategy Sprints – A DIY Guide

The word sprint means different things to different people. A runner thinks of it as a race, a mad dash of a few seconds. A software developer practicing "agile" thinks of it as a short, iterative cycle of work, often weeks or months, rather than seconds. An entrepreneur practicing "lean startup" methods thinks of it as minimally viable product development effort of a week or less.

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The Magic Question of Strategy

The Magic Question of Strategy

Your grand strategy seems airtight on paper. You’ve arrived at a winning aspiration. You’ve honed in on an open and attractive segment in which to play. You’ve identified the competitive advantages that will enable you to win in your chosen spaces. You’ve got the capabilities and systems to support your choices. But as the saying goes, no battle plan survives ...

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What Capabilities Do You Need to Win?

What Capabilities Do You Need to Win?

You’ve got a winning aspiration. You’ve chosen where to play, and how to win. Now: what capabilities must you have in place to enable you to win where you’ve chosen to play? This is the fourth question in the cascade of five questions in Roger Martin’s “Playing To Win” strategic framework. As Deming once said, “a goal without a method ...

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How Will You Win? (Strategically Speaking)

Even if your “Where to Play” (see last post) is not particularly unique, there are always ways to win. Case in point: corner coffee shops, so common they’re found in just about every town and city on the planet. Nothing at all special or unusual about that space. Who wins in that unremarkable market? Starbucks. Starbucks is the undisputed heavyweight ...

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Where Will You Play? (Strategically Speaking)

The question of where to play, strategically speaking, is deceptively simple. Most companies don’t give it enough deep thought and consideration. My friend Roger Martin would say, in fact, that most companies adopt a mindset of “our ‘where to play’ is where God ordained us to play.” In other words, they act as if the space they occupy in the ...

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What is Your Winning Aspiration?

A winning strategy absolutely must begin with a winning aspiration. Too doctrinaire? Allow me to explain the premise the way I learned it from Roger Martin, one of the best strategists on the planet. The operative word is “winning,” for the simple reason that if you’re not winning, you live in fear of the competitor in your space that is. ...

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When Going in New Directions, It Helps to Have a Map

I developed the Play-to-Win Canvas, a large wall map, to help teams explore strategic possibilities. (Click HERE to download a full size PDF, or HERE for a personal A3 size, both sharable under a Creative Commons license.) So, you’ve decided you need to shift strategy. You’ve drafted your current strategy using the Roger Martin Playing to Win five-question strategic question ...

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You Cannot Craft A New Strategy Until…

…you’ve defined the problem with the old one, reframed it as a choice between at least two mutually exclusive options, and generated some initial possibilities through focused, facilitated brainstorming. (Side rant to all the creativity “experts” out there poo-pooing brainstorming: Go pound sand. Brainstorming works very well with proper focus and facilitation. Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints.) Let’s assume you’ve ...

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Getting Clear on Your Strategy

Clarity - Getting Clear on Your Strategy

“If I had the key members of your executive suite all in the same room, would they all be able to articulate the essence of your business strategy clearly and consistently?” I asked the executive vice president of strategy. “Probably not,” she replied. “But I do know we need a new one, because the current one isn’t working.” I hear ...

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