Lafley’s reflection on what he could have done better during his exceptionally successful first tenure at the helm of P&G highlights an important lesson: strategic thinking and strategic decision making are critical skills for leaders and they can have a tremendous impact on value creation. At the heart of Lafley’s reflection is the need to drive profitable growth. The fact is a structured and disciplined approach to business portfolio management and resource allocation is essential to do so.
Under Lafley’s leadership, P&G did successfully evolve its portfolio to invest in high growth, global, innovative businesses like beauty care and male grooming (think of the Gillette acquisition), and away from national brand businesses with less room for global expansion and innovation like JIF.
But such transitions could have happened faster says Lafley in hindsight. Whether you are sitting in the CEO’s chair or operate as a P&L leader, strategic decision making and resource allocation skills are critical. In fact, many of our clients agree and have identified strategic thinking as a skills gap in their leaders. The question then becomes: how do you train your leaders to think strategically? Isn’t that a skill set that is acquired and honed over time, as leaders take on broader responsibilities?
Stay tuned for our next post which analyzes P&G’s recent organizational moves and strategic endeavors.