21 Feb Strategy Interview with Roger Martin
This interview with Roger Martin is one of the best discussions about strategy I’ve seen. He provides many excellent examples about what strategy is and what strategy isn’t. I think you’ll find it well worth your time. I appreciate that Martin sees strategy and marketing as indivisible from each other and his insight about how and why they often diverge is profound.
Martin mentions two important points that apply to MBTN Academy. First, he uses the ROI on an advertising campaign as an example of how inappropriate use of the time horizon may lead to the wrong conclusion. Some decisions do not have their full impact immediately which require a different consideration of timeframe. Other relationships are more are more cumulative in nature requiring a different analysis. These types of exceptions should be kept in mind when using metrics for decision-making.
Second, around the 27 min mark, Martin discusses the appropriate use of data in decision-making. He says, “Virtually all business decisions that are made on data are flawed decisions. Does that mean you should ignore all that? No, your data should inform your judgement.” He goes on to quote Alan Lafley (Ex-P&G CEO). “The only thing data can be is an aid to my judgement”. His main point is that data is by its nature is always in the past and strategy (and decision-making) is always in the future. To me, it is the blending of data (history), judgement (managerial experience), and forward thinking (insights) that creates a successful strategy or at least the chance of strategy that could be successful. We should always keep this in mind when using metrics, analytics, and tools such as ChatGPT.
I completely agree with his assessment of metrics and dashboards. Dashboards and metrics rarely provide an answer to what should be done (going forward), but instead, information about what has occurred based on past decisions under past conditions. They certainly can help us ask the right questions, however. And to ask the right question or discover an important insight, one must understand what the metrics mean and how they are derived. The real insight comes from having these relationships available inside your head at all times so that when a decision is proposed, a manager can understand the possible impacts of the decision on the KPIs. The focused concepts and practice of MBTN modules provides a fabulous base of this knowledge.