Must-Win Battles - PCC - ebook

Must-Win Battles shows leaders exactly how to identify the 3 to 5 critical challenges most likely to make or break their businesses -- and then mobilize people and resources to successfully execute on them. This book draws on the authors' exceptional experience as world-class consultants and leading-edge business researchers, and builds on the highly successful executive program they created for IMD, one of the world's best business schools. The authors show leaders how to cut through uncoordinated initiatives, create a short list of true "must-wins," focus relentlessly on them, and infuse their organizations with renewed energy and effectiveness. Along the way, discover how to recognize which victories will make the greatest difference, avoid unwinnable battles, drive consensus when somebody's ox is inevitably being gored, make sure Must-Win Battles are specific and measurable, and change the behavior of your top management team to lock in this laser-sharp focus for future battles.

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Main Idea

Must-win battles (MWBs) are the three to five key battles that your organization must win in the marketplace in order to achieve your revenue and profit targets and other key business objectives. In contrast to the numerous battles that would be nice to win, these must-win battles are the key to maintaining and regularly refreshing your organization’s competitive advantage.

It will usually be difficult for an organization to identify and agree on its list of MWBs. People will have different priorities, even the members of the senior management team. Furthermore, over a period of time, new corporate battles will emerge and come to the fore as a result of changes in the marketplace. For this reason, deciding on and then organizing to win your organization’s MWBs will be an ongoing process rather than a one-time event. MWBs always have an intellectual element──selecting the right MWBs and then focusing on them──and an emotional element──creating an effective team and then allowing that team to focus on winning MWBs.

Key Thoughts

“Most MWBs focus on market-related activities: developing and introducing new products, reviving a brand, and so on. By definition, these battles are important. But competitors will respond to your moves—doing their best to copy or exceed your efforts. It is very difficult, in short, to create a sustainable competitive advantage. A better market objective in today’s world is often to create a renewable competitive advantage. But we believe you can use your MWB journey to create a real sustainable competitive advantage. This is the creation of a management team that truly functions as a team. If you can build your key players into a real team, you will have a competitive advantage that will be very difficult for competitors to match. Your top team, operating as a team, should be able to implement new initiatives more quickly and with more force than competitors. Having a sustainable competitive advantage in the way people work together at the top of your organization should allow you to create a series of renewable competitive advantages in the marketplace.”

Peter Killing, Thomas Malnight and Tracey Keys


Before starting out on the must-win battle journey, you need to prepare your leadership team and your organization.

This requires that you lay a good foundation by:

Developing awareness within your organization of the importance of MWBs

Making a realistic assessment of the conditions facing your business at the outset

Determining whether your leadership is ready to lead the MWB journey

Key Thoughts

“No two MWB journeys are exactly the same, nor should they be. Every business sets out on its MWB journey from a different starting place. Some are in great financial health. Others are in crisis. Some have a management team that truly is a team; in others the team is in complete disarray. Some have a clear sense of the future, others have scarcely thought about it. And so on.”

Peter Killing, Thomas Malnight and Tracey Keys

Understand MWBs

Must-win battles (MWBs) are defined as the key marketplace battles your organization must win to achieve your stated objectives. Usually, this will be a short list of between three and five key battles.

A valid and viable must-win battle will have these characteristics:

■ A MWB must make a tangible difference to the achievement of your company’s overall objectives ────meaning you simply have to win to prosper. Must-win battles make a big difference. They are literally the making or breaking of your organization.

■ MWBs are market-focused────they don’t emphasize winning the internal battles that tend to crop up in organizations on a regular basis. MWBs reflect success in the marketplace rather than winning an internal battle with some other part of your organization.

■ MWBs are exciting and challenging────they reflect genuine accomplishments and achievements as you work collectively towards some impressive targets. MWBs have to be both exciting and meaningful, otherwise they won’t be powerful enough to maintain the commitment and use of resources needed to win them.

■ MWBs are specific and tangible────they can be measured and tracked. Your MWBs will be specifically tailored to your business situation, your markets and your precise organizational needs. MWBs generally have short time frames of two years or less.

■ MWBs must be winnable