lafley martin strategy model

Lafley & Martin’s Strategy Model

In their book ‘Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works’, A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin make developing a business strategy into a relatively straightforward five-step strategy. This article covers the key processes and questions to consider at each stage.


Background behind ‘Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works’

A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin developed the Five-Step Strategy Model and included it in their book, ‘Playing to Win’ published in 2013. Lafley is a former CEO of Procter & Gamble, and Martin was previously Dean at the Rotman School of Management.

Amazon’s Outline of the Book;-

Playing to Win, a noted Wall Street Journal and Washington Post bestseller, outlines the strategic approach Lafley, in close partnership with strategic adviser Roger Martin, used to double P&G’s sales, quadruple its profits, and increase its market value by more than $100 billion when Lafley was first CEO (he led the company from 2000 to 2009). The book shows leaders in any type of organization how to guide everyday actions with larger strategic goals built around the clear, essential elements that determine business success—where to play and how to win.

The stories of how P&G repeatedly won by applying this method to iconic brands such as Olay, Bounty, Gillette and Febreze clearly illustrate how deciding on a strategic approach—and then making the right choices to support it—makes the difference between just playing the game and actually winning.

An Introduction to Lafley and Martin’s Strategy Model

Developing a business strategy is often seen as a complex task and as a result, one that can be overlooked. However, this post will show you that it can be straightforward, with five key questions you need to consider.  You may believe that an excellent product or superlative service is enough for your business to succeed, but having a clear strategy is as important.

If you can work through this five-step strategy in this model, then you should be able to develop a winning strategy to help your business succeed.

Working through Lafley and Martin’s Strategy Model

Step 1: What is our winning aspiration?

The first question to consider is what are we actually in business to achieve? ‘Making money’ is what most businesses are about. However, this is too generic to get your strategy off to a good start. How will you make money, what will you do? Imagine yourself in five years’ time, with a successful business – what does it look and feel like?  This goal needs to be aspirational but achievable, don’t kid yourself you will be taking on major players in your market if that is not realistic. It is important to be as specific as you can, as the rest of the strategy can hang from the answer to this question.

Step 2: Where will we play?

Having decided what ‘winning’ looks and feels like, the next step is to decide what markets and customers you are going to operate in, to achieve that goal. The answer to this question is likely to depend on the business you are in, and the answer to Step 1. You may feel you want to compete everywhere, but this is worth re-thinking. Trying to be all things to all people can be extremely difficult, and you can end up having to compromise so much to meet everyone’s needs that you actually meet no one’s.

Consider who you want as your customers, and where geographically they are. This will lead you to the channels you have available to you to market and sell your product or service.

Step 3: How are we going to win?

You will be starting to see how these questions flow from each other. Your response to this question will clearly be dependent on your answers to earlier questions. Whichever piece of the market you have decided to get into, you will want to be competitive and to do that, you need to understand what winning is and how you do it.

Essentially, people want an effective product or service, for a price they are happy to pay. You need to decide how you are going to position yourself in your market so that you are delivering what people want. How will you set yourselves apart from the competition? Will your product be cheaper, better quality, more effective?

Step 4: What capabilities will we need?

Now you know how you are positioning yourself, you will need to review what infrastructure you have in place to ensure that it supports your needs. If your winning strategy is about low prices, then do you have the capabilities to be able to produce the product or deliver the service at a low price? If excellent quality is what sets you apart from your competition, how will you ensure your product or service really is at the required level of quality? You will need to carry out an honest assessment of your current position, in order to be able to decide what you might need to change.

Step 5: What management systems will we need?

A strategy on its own can never be effective; you need to ensure you have the right people in place to drive your strategy. You will also need to have measurement systems in place so that you know how well you are doing and how close you are to achieving success. You will need to work out what metrics are useful to you and how you can achieve them.


If you can work through the five-steps above and develop robust answers to them all, then you are well on the way to developing a strategy to help your business succeed.

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