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Introduction to Understanding the Strategic Playing Fields

“Where will you play?”
-A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin 

Welcome to the fifth module of the Better Business Acceleration Program: Understanding the Strategic Playing Fields.

According to one of the world’s top management thinkers, Roger Martin, an important rule of success is that strategy takes more than a big vision, no matter how brilliant it is. First of all, it takes defining the playing field.

The strategic playing field of a company normally includes its deliberate choices about targeted customer segments, its value proposition, its distribution channels and choice of geographic presence. It is normally highly dependent on the particular industry context.

In the case of Better Business, however, three completely different playing fields seem to be particularly relevant for any company to take into consideration:

  • The organization itself
  • Its business ecosystem
  • The world and society

The playing fields of Better Business


A challenge is that with each level, however, complexity increases. Hence, the business ecosystem level is more complex than the organizational level and the world and society level is more complex than the business ecosystem level. This also means that they are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted or controlled.

The biggest challenge is maybe that the natural playing field for us as business leaders is the organization and its immediate transactional environment (our customers, suppliers and competitors). That is what we have been trained for.

What we have not been trained for is how to manage increasingly complex and uncertain business ecosystems or global challenges. This makes the opportunity for Better Business a tricky one.

So, what is it that we need to master? Where should we start?

In this module, we will explore how the sustainability trailblazers have approached this challenge in five steps - each a step on the StepUp Framework, and each a step presented in a corresponding lesson:

  1. Lay a solid foundation
  2. Explore and innovate
  3. Integrate into the core
  4. Upgrade your business ecosystem
  5. Collaborate to change the world.


Finally, you will get a chance to benchmark your business towards the good practices of the Sustainability Trailblazers and draft a strategy and action plan for your area of responsibility.


Self-Assessment Better Business

Let’s dig in.