In this episode of the Strategy Podcast,
I want to focus on the ninth mistake
I see companies make as
relates to strategy execution
and that problem is not playing to win.
I see lots, and this happens
in the strategy process
but also in the execution process.
I see companies playing not to lose,
you know, in many cases more frequently
than I see them actually playing to win.
That’s because they have
this established position.
They’ve already got something there
that’s worked for them in the past
and so that gets protected
and if progress threatens that in any way,
then we end up playing
more of a defensive game
than an offensive game.
And, frankly, playing not to lose
is a much riskier proposition
than playing to win.
If you don’t play to win, you
have no chance of winning.
At least, that’s been my experience.
You end up playing in those
teams or those companies
end up struggling over time
if they’re not playing to win.
But let’s take a minute here to talk about
what playing to win means
in the context of a company.
It’s not as simple as an athletic contest
or a game between two basketball teams
or two football teams.
Those are what’s called a finite game.
There’s a specific period of time
when you have to play the game
and there’s going to be a
definitive winner or loser
based upon the score.
There may be a tie but that’s rare
in athletic sports outside
of soccer, I guess.
But you know, even if it’s
a real game of importance,
you will play ’til somebody wins, right?
That’s a finite game with two players.
Business is not that way.
It is an infinite game.
It means it goes on.
It is this game that
sustains itself over time.
There’s no time duration
in which a game happens.
We think about things in a calendar year,
although that relates to the time
it takes for the Earth
to go around the sun,
which doesn’t mean that’s how business,
it’s not the beginning
and the end of a business
is that cycle.
It’s been driven much more by the dynamics
of the business over time
and what you want to seek,
really, is progress, right?
You want to see effective returns
on the investments being
made in the company.
You want to see employees grow and develop
and become more effective
leaders within the company.
And by defining winning as improvement
and continuous improvement and progress
and thinking about how do you understand
whether you’re making progress every day
and giving people a way
to evaluate their work
and is it making, helping, contributing
to the progress of the organization?
So I go home at night,
I know that did I make
progress today or not?
And if you can show me
how I am making progress,
you’ll give me much more motivation
to come to work tomorrow and
find ways to make more progress
and that becomes a very
positive feedback cycle
that can feed off of itself
and actually lead companies to
deliver extraordinary results
over time because all that work
and all that progress compounds
and it may not happen all at once
but compounding work
and effort and progress
can really lead to some
tremendous results over time.
So remember to play to win and
show people what that means
so that every day they know,
did they win today?
I hope this series of
podcasts on strategy execution
has proved helpful and
useful to you in your work.
My name’s Alex Nesbitt and I look forward
to seeing you in future podcasts.