Brendan Byrnes: Do you think investors can look at companies that are using these strategies, and say, "These may be a better investment, down the road?" Can this be a tool for investors as well, when looking at the stock market?

Roger Martin: Absolutely. I really think that it's a way of analyzing companies and just asking yourself the question, from the outside -- you'll never have as much information as the insiders but you can still analyze it -- and say, "Well, where are they playing? Do they have a proposition that actually is winning with the customers?"

I give Jeff Immelt a bunch of credit. I think he inherited a company that maybe had had a Where to Play that expanded a little bit too much, and maybe wasn't as precise about its How to Win. I think he's trimming back on areas that are less advantaged, for him.

Good businesses -- NBC Universal, a great business -- but it fits better with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA). When the deal closes, it'll be fully at Comcast. GE Capital (NYSE:GE), which became a more sprawling empire of things that really worked well and didn't work so well has been shrunk back ...

Brendan: Got in a little bit of trouble back in ...

Roger: [laughs] In 2008? Absolutely.

I think investors, hopefully, are looking at that and saying, "Wow, that's getting to be a more precise strategy, where we can understand why they're playing where they are, and how they're intending to win in each of those places," and would like that.


To watch the full interview with Roger Martin, click here.

Brendan Byrnes has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.