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BW Businessworld

Book Review: Playing To Win

Every entrepreneur looking to alter the landscape and every CEO looking to reimagine their business can learn from this book

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Every entrepreneur looking to alter the landscape and every CEO looking to reimagine their business can learn from this book. Category design is a principle that every successful entrepre- neur has intuitively embraced. Winning today isn’t about beating the competition at the old game. It is about inventing a whole new game — defining a new market category, developing it, and dominating it over time. You can’t build a legendary company without building a legendary category. If you think that having the best product is all it takes to win, you are going to lose.

In this farsighted, pioneering guide, authors Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney rely on data analysis and interviews to understand the inner workings of “category kings”— companies such as Salesforce, Uber, and Ikea — that give us new ways of living, thinking or doing business, often solving problems we didn’t know we had.

In Play Bigger, the authors assemble their findings and explain how companies can use category design to create new demand where none existed and conditioning customer’s brains so they change their expectations and buying habits. While this discipline defines the tech industry, it applies to every kind of industry and even to personal careers.

In today’s economy, should leaders be dogged, analytic, and organised or should they be empathic, charismatic, and communicative? The answer is simple: they need all those traits. Rather than categorising yourself as a certain type of leader, explore the nuances that a complex, fast-moving business environment requires.

Leaders need to confidently deliver tough messages with analytics as evidence, but they also need to be sensitive to how people receive those messages. Most leadership traits are not an either/or choice, but rather complementary sides of effective management. The book speaks about prioritising value over volume — multitasking results in mediocre outcomes. By putting too little attention on too many things, you fail to do anything well. However, the answer isn’t single-tasking either. Single-tasking is far too slow to help you succeed in today’s fast-paced world. Instead, identify the tasks that will create the most value and focus on those. By prioritising value over volume and sharpening your focus on task Lcrease the quality of your work and, ultimately, the value you provide. What to do with all those tasks that didn’t make the high-value list? Put them on a “do later” list. If they continually fail to make it to the high-value list, ask yourself: why do them at all?

Books such as Crossing the Chasm revolutionised how we think about new products in an existing market. The Innovator’s Dilemma taught us about disrupting an aging market. Now, Play Bigger is transforming business once again, showing us how to create the market itself.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Jayavardhan

Jayavardhan is CEO and Co-Founder at Hashtaag

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