Cascading Choices: Shaping Strategy Through Choices


Cascading Choices is a strategic decision-making framework developed by Dr. Roger Martin, a thought leader known for his distinctive views on business strategy and integrative thinking. This approach provides a nuanced method to shape an organization’s strategy not merely through goals and initiatives, but through a sequence of interrelated and cascading choices.


Dr. Roger Martin devised the Cascading Choices framework as a part of his broader endeavor to rethink conventional business strategy and management paradigms. He introduced this methodology to promote the idea that strategy should not be seen as a rigid plan but as an evolving cascade of choices that molds the organization’s operating model and ensures that all strategic decisions align with and drive the organization’s overarching purpose.

The Essence of Cascading Choices

The core of Martin’s Cascading Choices model lies in its sequential, hierarchical decision-making process. The process initiates with the most abstract and broadest decisions, gradually moving towards more specific and operational choices. The framework encompasses five interdependent choices:

Winning Aspiration: This forms the broadest choice, determining the organization’s overarching purpose or what ‘winning’ signifies for the organization.

Where to Play: This involves making decisions about the specific markets or segments in which the organization will operate, essentially defining its playing field.

How to Win: Following the decision on where to play, the organization must choose its unique approach or strategy to win in the chosen markets.

Core Capabilities: These are the distinctive abilities that the organization must possess or develop to win in the chosen fields.

Management Systems: This entails decisions around the systems that need to be put in place to support, enhance, and leverage the core capabilities, thus ensuring that the strategy is effectively executed.

These choices should ideally be made sequentially, with each choice logically cascading from and building upon the one before it. This cascade of choices guarantees the organization’s strategy remains coherent, consistent, and intricately tied to its defined purpose.


Dr. Roger Martin’s Cascading Choices framework provides an invaluable tool for organizations aiming to develop an effective and cohesive strategy. By focusing on a cascade of choices that flow from the broadest to the most specific, organizations can shape their strategy around their chosen operating model. This enhances their ability to align all strategic decisions with their winning aspiration and ultimately achieve their strategic objectives.

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