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Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy

To foster an innovative strategy, the control over the planning process must go with a high-level strategic debate.

Author(s): A.G. Lafley, Roger L. Martin, Jan W. Rivkin, Nicolaj Siggelkow

Publisher: Harvard Business Review

Date of publication: 2012

Read this article on the publisher's website [Harvard Business Review]


The art of strategy is based on great discipline. The better the planning process is controlled and the more it is based on solid quantitative analysis, the better the resulting strategy will be. This is partially true, but beware of the excesses of this conception, warn the authors of this article, including the ex-CEO of Procter & Gamble. Planning processes often lead, they note, to the renewal of the same strategic styles year after year, rather than true innovations. The authors thus emphasize the importance of the quality of strategic debate, starting with the articulation of the choices the company faces and the options that are available. Taking the Procter & Gamble vision in the late 1990s to become a leading player on the beauty product market as a base case, they explain how P&G defined the different possible scenarios, then doggedly worked on each one to avoid eliminating apparently unpromising options too soon, and finally proceeded by elimination to come up with the selected strategy. A detailed article that is both instructive in terms of feedback on experience and for its advice on the mindset needed to foster strategic creativity.

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