The Power of Your One-Phrase Strategy

Six Common Signs of a Winning Strategy

As we move into 2020 you are probably creating and/or reviewing your strategy for the upcoming year. I have written extensively in the past on strategy and what it is and is not. In December I wrote about Six Common Strategy Traps.  Now I want to discuss the opposite focus – signs of a winning strategy.

Strategy is all about the competitive advantage you are able to sustain over time. Patrick Lencioni (author of The Advantage) states that strategy in the simplest form is your plan for success. It is a collection of intentional decisions your company makes to give itself the best chance to thrive and differentiate from competitors.

In this light I recommend a read or re-read of Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by Lafley and Martin. They expand on strategy as the art of making specific choices to win in the marketplace.


But how do you make these choices? One way to help focus on those choices is to examine some common signs that indicate you have a winning strategy is in place.

“There is no perfect strategy – no algorithm that can guarantee sustainable competitive advantage in a given industry or business.” But there are signals that you have found a winning and defensible strategy.

Winning Signs

Here are six signs of a winning strategy (1):

  1. An activity system that looks different from any competitor’s system. It means you are attempting to deliver value in a distinctive way.
  2. Customers who absolutely adore you, and non-customers who can’t see why anybody would buy from you. This means you have been choice-full.
  3. Competitors who make a good profit doing what they are doing. It means your strategy has left where-to-play and how-to-win choices for competitors, who don’t need to attack the heart of your market to survive.
  4. More resources to spend on an ongoing basis than competitors have. This means you are winning the value equation and have the biggest margin between price and costs and the best capacity to add spending to take advantage of an opportunity or defend your turf.
  5. Competitors who attack one another, not you. It means that you look like the hardest target in the (broadly defined) industry to attack.
  6. Customers who look first to you for innovations, new products, and service enhancement to make their lives better. This means that your customers believe that you are uniquely positioned to create value for them.

Can you identify with any of these winning signs? Are they helping you develop an exceptional strategy for the new year? Contact me to discuss how to leverage these signs in your business.

All the best

© 2020 David Paul Carter. All rights reserved.

(1) © Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by A.G. Lafley  (Author), Roger L. Martin  (Author).

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