Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

by Roger Martin  |   8:00 AM February 5, 2013

I must have heard the words “we need to create a strategic plan” at least an order of magnitude more times than I have heard “we need to create a strategy.” This is because most people see strategy as an exercise in producing a planning document. In this conception, strategy is manifested as a long list of initiatives with timeframes associated and resources assigned.

Somewhat intriguingly, at least to me, the initiatives are themselves often called “strategies.” That is, each different initiative is a strategy and the plan is an organized list of the strategies.

But how does a strategic plan of this sort differ from a budget? Many people with whom I work find it hard to distinguish between the two and wonder why a company needs to have both. And I think they are right to wonder. The vast majority of strategic plans that I have seen over 30 years of working in the strategy realm are simply budgets with lots of explanatory words attached. This may be the case because the finance function is deeply involved in the strategy process in most organizations. But it is also the cause of the deep antipathy I see, especially amongst line executives, toward strategic planning. I know very few who look forward with joy to the commencement of the next strategic planning cycle.

To make strategy more interesting — and different from a budget — we need to break free of this obsession with planning. Strategy is not planning — it is the making of an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns. I find that once this is made clear to line managers they recognize that strategy is not just fancily-worded budgeting and they get much more interested in it.

Obviously you can’t execute a strategy without initiatives, investments, and budgeting. But what you need to get managers focused on before you start on those things is the strategy that will make these initiatives coherent.

That strategy is a singular thing; there is one strategy for a given business — not a set of strategies. It is one integrated set of choices: what is our winning aspiration; where will we play; how will we win; what capabilities need to be in place; and what management systems must be instituted?

That strategy tells you what initiatives actually make sense and are likely to produce the result you actually want. Such a strategy actually makes planning easy. There are fewer fights about which initiatives should and should not make the list, because the strategy enables discernment of what is critical and what is not.

This conception of strategy also helps define the length of your strategic plan. The five questions can easily be answered on one page and if they take more than five pages (i.e. one page per question) then your strategy is probably morphing unhelpfully into a more classical strategic plan.

This definition of strategy can be disconcerting to those who have spent a lifetime generating traditional strategic plans. Not long ago I facilitated a day long strategy session with the senior team of a very successful $10 billion company with an outstanding CEO. By the end of the day (in part thanks to a goodly amount of pre-work by the head of strategy), we got to a nice set of integrated choices. I congratulated the group on its great thinking and working and affirmed what I judged to be an excellent strategy.

My enthusiasm notwithstanding, the CEO was troubled. I asked him why. “Is that all we have to do,” he asked, as if he thought he had cheated on an exam. I am sure he expected that he had to full binders and long lists of initiatives to feel that he had been thorough in this year’s strategic planning process. I reassured him that he had given strategy anything but short shrift. And that day strategy prevailed over planning. I suspect that CEO will never go back.

So if you pass the five-page mark is time to ask: Are we answering the five key questions or are we doing something else and calling it strategy? If it is the latter: eject, eject!

Download a free chapter from Playing to Win, Roger’s brand-new book with A.G. Lafley.

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Roger Martin

Roger Martin

Roger Martin ( is the Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada. He is the author of Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works. For more information, including events with Roger, click here.



Want to know whether someone is lying to you? Just look at the person’s eyebrows and lips, they can give you the answer, scientists say. (April ’12)

A team from the University of British Columbia in Canada claimed to have identified four facial muscles that can “leak” a person’s true feelings like guilt, amid intense emotional pressures.

While liars were betrayed by tiny movements that caused them to raise their eyebrows in surprised expressions and smile slightly, innocent people tended to furrow their brow in genuine “expressions of distress”, the researchers found.

A person’s lack of control over their facial expressions meant genuine feelings could be differentiated from fake emotion, they said. Most humans, according to them, can control lower face muscles to talk or eat but those in the upper face are difficult to manipulate and can spark involuntary behaviour.

“Our research suggests that muscles of the face are not under complete conscious control and certain muscles are likely to betray the liar, particularly in high-stakes and highly emotional situations,” Dr Leanne ten Brinke, who led the study, told The Daily Telegraph.  ”Facial cues are an important, but often ignored, aspect of credibility assessments where an emotional issue is in question,” she said.  ”Cues to emotional deception are likely to occur when the underlying emotion a liar is attempting to mask, is relatively strong.”

In the study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour ( april ’12), the researchers analysed facial expressions of a group of people — half of whom were later proved to be lying — as they made emotional televised pleas for the safe return of a missing relative.  They found that deceptive pleaders raised their forehead muscles, called the frontalis, which gave off surprised expressions.

Liars also had increased activity of the “zygomatic majormuscles”, located around the mouth, which caused them to inadvertently lift their lips into a smile, found the team that also viewed over 23,000 frames of video from real-life cases in Britain, America, Canada and Australia.

Dr ten Brinke, from the university’s Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law (CAPSL), said the study found muscles “leaked” signs of true emotion because of the person’s subconscious actions.

This compared to “genuine pleaders”, who activated their inner frontalis and “corrugator supercilli”, located between the eyebrows, which caused them to frown and furrow their brow in a genuine “an expression of distress. While genuine pleaders show real distress on their face, the deceptive pleaders are unable to replicate that same activation,” Dr ten Brinke said. While the findings were important for “lie catchers”, she cautioned they did not provide a “Pinocchio’s nose”.

“Not everyone will leak their true emotions, and some people are better than others at adopting a false face (such as) psychopaths,” she added.

By Lisa Johnson Mandell

“Just tell us how to get a job!” you’ve implored us at AOL Jobs, and we listened. We’re getting out the heavy artillery for you by posting the “One-Day Career Makeover” from the book ‘Career Comeback–Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want.’ It’s a makeover you can give yourself at home, so it costs very little, if anything — and you can do it no matter where you live. In just one day, it can put you head and shoulders above your competition.

Dare we say it? It can even be fun, if you do it right. This doesn’t have to be an expensive, laborious, months-long process: Everything can be completed in a lively eight hours, the equivalent of one normal work day. Recently, Kristen went from looking like a fun mom to a fund raiser in a matter of hours. This recently divorced mother of three needed to re-enter the working world fast, and in only one day she was ready.

“I hadn’t had a full time job outside the home in years–I was busy at home raising my kids,” she said. “Everything had changed 180 degrees since last time I looked for work. It’s overwhelming trying to figure out even where to start. This immediately got me going in the right direction.”

Kristen’s small son had recently battled cancer, and she decided she would like to work for a non-profit organization to help raise funds and comfort families. She needed to know how to incorporate her invaluable personal experience in her professional resume, how to use social networking to reach out to potential donors and sponsors and how to dress professionally to approach them in person. She was able to accomplish all of this and more in just one day.

Even if you already have a job, you might be worried about hanging onto it. Why not set aside a Saturday to give yourself this one-day career makeover, so you’ll be ready to start a job search if, god forbid, you get laid off. It never hurts to reconnect with old (and possibly influential friends) This is also a helpful exercise if you’re happily employed and seeking a promotion.

“Once I started suddenly dressing better for work and sharpening my image,” said Anne, who prefers not to give her full name so as not to tip her hand, “people thought I was going on interviews for other jobs. Within two weeks my bossed called me in, asked me if I was happy, and offered me a raise and a promotion–even in this economy! It was great!”

Who knows? Once you complete these steps, you just might wake up the next morning and find, waiting patiently in your e-mail box, a few job opportunities from employers who are looking for you!

Here’s your agenda:

8-10AM: Spend two hours producing a killer resume, highlighting your special skills and eliminating work experience that is irrelevant to the types of positions you’re currently seeking. You might want to create a few different resumes, if you’re applying for diverse jobs in different fields. See for answers to all your resume questions, as well as resume templates and useful examples and tips.

10AM: Start the physical process. If you’re feeling flush, go for a blow dry if you’re a woman or a haircut and/or shave if you’re a man, at your favorite (budget) salon. If you’re watching your pennies, wash, dry and style your hair at home so you look your best

11AM: Women: Have your makeup done for free at the makeup counter in your favorite department store. You might want to at least buy a lip-gloss to thank them. If you’re doing the home-version of this makeover, carefully do your makeup in-house, as if you were going to an important event. Men: Take this time to shave and trim any unruly facial hair.

Noon: Select a fresh, hip, outfit from your closet. Make sure there are pops of color in it — no plain white shirts, or a boring cream shirt and black jacket combos. Feel free to use the news anchor’s trick of wearing a colorful shirt/top and/or tie with jeans or sweats underneath — you’re only going to be shooting head and shoulders. No big prints, and no busy backgrounds. It’s best to stand against a plain colored or brick wall, so no one will be able to tell where you are. Once you look your absolute best, have a friend, spouse, neighbor, whomever, snap several digital photos and download the best on your home computer.

1PM: Serve your photographer lunch — it’s the least you can do for his or her services. While you’re eating, have your photographer proof your resume. You should NEVER send it out without having at least one other person proof it.

2PM: Select an elegant business card template from one of the many free online providers like or Some sites will print the cards for you free — all you have to do is pay postage. You’ll want these cards to have your name, your e-mail address, and your phone number. No street address, and only include your profession or the position you’re seeking if you have something very specific in mind. Otherwise, leave it open.

3PM: Start your own blog so it will be easy for employers to find you online. Post that fabulous digital photo you just took and a professional profile using information from your new resume. Also, provide snippets, tips and teases from any online articles about your profession that you’ve read recently. Make sure you provide a link to the original article. A few sites that offer free blogs include, and

4PM: Begin your social networking campaign. Post that flattering photo on, and fill in all the professional information that site allows you to. Remember to use the job title you’re seeking quite a few times, so that recruiters who are searching for people in your field can find you easily. Send connection requests to people who work for companies you admire. You can do the same thing on a professional Facebook page. If you already have a personal Facebook page, start a professional one that has no pix of your kids, pets or any references to Farmville or Mafia Wars, etc. Find connections and friends in alumni groups, former employer groups and special professional interest groups on these sites, and any other networking sites that pertain to your profession. Search old yearbooks and company directories for ideas about connections.

5PM-on: Step away from the computer. Relax on the couch, kick your shoes off, pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage and indulge yourself with some mindless TV, reveling in the knowledge that even while you’re sleeping, prospective employers could be searching for you, finding you, and praying that you’ll take the job they’re offering.

“It was a lot of work, and it was tiring, but it was actually a lot of fun,” says Kristen. “When you look good, you feel good. I wasn’t at all ready to go out and find a job before, but now, it’s definitely time! I feel really confident!”

You can get more information about each of these steps in the book ‘Career Comeback–Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want.’ But if you’re eager to get started right away, just do a search for the parts you want to clarify on AOL Jobs. Happy (and fast) job hunting!