Episode 12

Roger Martin: Strategy is about imagination, choices and capabilities

Available on these channels and more

How well do you make choices? It could be about your career, the focus of your job, your life more broadly. Or it could be about the focus and direction of the organisation.

Too often we avoid making real choices, continuing with what we have because it feels safe, and comfortable to do so. Or we make a choice without considering all of the options? Choices are at the heart of strategy. Choices about where to play, how to win and how to build the capabilities and resources required to get you there.

Imagination plays an important role — you have to ask what do you want to become before figuring out what you need to believe, and do, to get there. Strategy is separate from a plan. And it doesn’t require heavy analysis or long PowerPoint decks. My guest in this conversation, Roger Martin, is one of the world’s leading strategy thinkers and adviser to CEOs. He talks eloquently about how to do strategy effectively and counters many of the popular myths.

The best bits of these conversations are captured in my newsletter Flashes+Sparks.

Further resources

Roger Martin is a CEO advisor and author on the frontiers of strategy and culture. In 2017, Roger was named the world’s #1 management thinker by Thinkers50, a biannual ranking of the most influential global business thinkers. His newest book is When More is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency (Harvard Business Review Press, 2020). Roger has published an excellent series of articles on strategy on Medium.

“Somebody who thinks of strategy as involving a lot of imagination, then figuring out how to produce what might be, even though they cannot prove it in advance with analysis, will beat you. They will outflank you.”

Roger Martin, CEO advisor and author

VIEW RUNNING ORDER

03.31 One area of strategy that needs changing: overemphasis on analysis.
05.04 The second area: strategy as a plan. Focus on choices.
06.50 The history of analytical consultancy.
08.59 The fallacy of strategy design and execution.
13.39 The relationship between strategy and culture.
18.29 How he led cultural change successfully at the Rotman School of Business.
21.53 A new performance review process for professors.
23.37 Culture change in one-to-one conversations and getting a laptop.
28.13 The resilience (or not) of business schools.
31.50 Who he would take along to CEO meetings and why.
34.14 How he has applied his strategy framework to his own life.
Andy Woodfield: Coming out as your best self

Andy Woodfield: Coming out as your best self

Bruce Daisley: Drawing strength from others

Bruce Daisley: Drawing strength from others

Gena Cox: Building inclusive organisations

Gena Cox: Building inclusive organisations

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic: Supercharging human performance

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic: Supercharging human performance

Laura Vanderkam: Making time for what matters

Laura Vanderkam: Making time for what matters

Amy Gallo: Working with difficult people

Amy Gallo: Working with difficult people

Paul Polman: Creating companies that give more than they take

Paul Polman: Creating companies that give more than they take

Jim Detert: Cultivating your courage

Jim Detert: Cultivating your courage

Andrea Olson: Truly understanding your customers

Andrea Olson: Truly understanding your customers

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