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Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  2,838 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Competitive advantage. The value chain. Five forces. Industry structure. Differentiation. Relative cost. If you want to understand how companies achieve and sustain competitive success, Michael Porter’s frameworks are the foundation. But while everyone in business may know Porter’s name, many managers misunderstand and misuse his concepts.

Understanding Michael Porter sets
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published November 1st 2011)
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Gene Babon
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strategy
No business manager should be allowed to hold the title without having a working knowledge of the research and teachings of Harvard Business School Professor, Michael Porter. You can start with On Competition, Updated and Expanded Edition, a dense masterwork. Or you can capture the essence of three decades of research in this essential guide to competition and strategy.

Written by a long-time collaborator at the Harvard Business School, Understanding Michael Porter is divided into two parts: What
Manas Saloi
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I judge a book by the amount of text I end up highlighted. Any good nonfiction books = ~20%

I ended up highlighting and saving almost 80% of the book. It is that high in terms of substance
Henry Barry
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business-wealth
Porter provides a very refreshing and more sophisticated view of business strategy, shattering the idealistic simplicity of things like Jack Welch's view that you have to be number one or two in your business, or that success is creating a better product than others. Porter's view is that success comes from finding your unique value proposition and delivering that well. You don't have to be the biggest. The concept of "the best" product is a mirage, as Southwest airlines represents the best for ...more
Brad Gillespie
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Strategy, as in Harvard Business School style strategy. In a dynamic modern world how businesses are actually gaining competitive advantages. While rare, it is possible and Porter points the way. This audiobook or book is the broad brush overview of Porters work. If you are interested in business strategy I would call it a must read. If not. Pass.
Susan Chow-Dukhan
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A concise summary of Michael Porter's ideas of competition and strategy. Starting with identifying the right mind-set for competition, the concept that being best and getting the largest market share does not guarantee success is emphasized throughout the book. This book does not overwhelm the reader with complicated charts and graphs, choosing instead to use simple terminology and interesting company examples. ...more
Marc Aiello
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'll never see the world the same after reading this book. Not just for understanding business strategy, but for understanding decision-making in general.

Worst audio-book narrator ever. It was that good, that i was able to listen to this guy for 10+ hours. Imagine Steve Erkel reading a not-funny book to you.
J  Brown
Although I found this book very interesting I am giving it 3 Stars. I am almost certain that I am selling it short. Joan Margretta's job of summarizing, deferring, and simplifying has given me a renewed interest in finishing the original Porter. If you take into account that she roamed the grounds when the seminal work was being derived you will appreciate it more. ...more
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The key to competitive success: aim to be unique, not best."

“Strategy is making trade-offs in competing. The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
Jacek Bartczak
May 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing
"Micheal Porter but served with copy which is possible to read". That value proposition sounds both super attractive and scary. I was very doubtful whether such a project could be successful. But it was. Book impacted how I am going to think about the strategy. It shows what it really means to have a clear direction at your company. If your company is like "our customer is everyone who is going to pay us" the definitely you should read it.

Before you read remember that:
1) Porter represents one of
Calvin Isch
May 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Chock-full of distilled wisdom on strategy and competition, containing endless examples, this one is worth the short time commitment for those interested in creating value. A one sentence summary: identify a unique “value proposition” and tailor your organization to provide that value.
Machiel Reyneke
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very compelling and surprisingly simple. Required reading!
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I would like to say that I am a fan of Peter Drucker. Although, after reading his works, you have a good idea on how to improve efficiency, you don't have a crystallized idea on how to think about a strategy. His books although well-written are more like a collection of wisdom born from an extensive experience of a management consultant, than a general theory on how to position a business (it probably wasn't his goal anyway- his mission was to make people productive).
Michael Porte
Sanford Chee
Feb 28, 2020 marked it as to-read
"Joan Magretta's book, "Understanding Michael Porter," is terrific and easier to read than the (original) Porter work" - Michael Mauboussin @mjmauboussin
Niharika Sishtla
Dec 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is gold. One of my first strategy reads and is almost one of the top 5 recommends on strategy by industry leaders. Learnt so much about what constitutes good strategy and bad strategy, what is competitive advantage, what are the questions one needs to ask themselves when there are disruptive technologies etc. The author also uses examples of companies such as Southwest Airlines, IKEA, Zara etc to explain all concepts making it very easy to understand. Would recommend this to anyone who ...more
Sahil Shah
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'd read Porter during my management school days, but mostly in the pedantic, self-serving manner. Joan Magretta's synopsis (if I can call it that) of his thought process and definitions in her book has made me realise the value of Porter's works. Every idea becomes greater and clearer when supplicated with an illustration (or better still, a validated example), and that is what this book does. This book is for someone who wants bite sized pieces of Porter to quickly chew on while still gaining ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A lucid account of Professor Michael Porter's significant contributions to the field of business strategy such as the Five Forces Framework, the Value Chain, Activity System and the notion of tradeoffs. A very good book to revisit these frameworks and understand how all these fit together. Porter's frameworks and concepts are also often misunderstood despite being popular. A reading of this book could serve to clear some of the misconceptions and prevent missteps when applying these frameworks a ...more
Akhil J
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gained a better understanding of what disruptions truly mean, when they matter and how to evaluate/create business models that foster competitive advantage. Very enjoyable read. Highly recommended especially to those who find it fun to think about strategy. I picked up this book as I consider strategy a weakness and I want to be better at it - I'd say this book gave a kickstart to that journey. ...more
May Ling
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
I read out of order from the the original. This is a great read to clarify, especially if you don't have the benefit of a strong MBA program. Read the original first, though. ...more
Jose Papo
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is even better than the original Michael Porter :) . If you really want to understand and apply strategy and competitive analysis/techniques than read this book!
May 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Boring overview of strategy. not really helpful with Strategy class.
Wilson Moreno
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Pretty much the whole MBA in a book.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Competitive advantage. The value chain. Five forces. Industry structure. Differentiation. Relative cost. If you want to understand how companies achieve and sustain competitive success, Michael Porter’s frameworks are the foundation. But while everyone in business may know Porter’s name, many managers misunderstand and misuse his concepts.

Understanding Michael Porter sets the record straight, providing the first concise, accessible summary of Porter’s revolutionary thinking. Written with Porter’
Greg Bae
Aug 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent strategy field manual for busy managers.

The distillation of insights and logical structure makes the book more assertively than Porter’s own works.

Key themes:

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.

Competition is not to be the best, rather it’s to be the most unique.

Strategy is the antidote to competition.

Goals or aspirations, or singling out values, are not strategy. None of these address the key question of performance in the face of competition. What value will your organ
Tauri Laane
Nice short introduction to an author (Michael Porter) who has written several in depth books about business and economy. The biggest takeaway: don’t worry about competition, because every company has their own strategy and their own trade-offs. Your rivals can not copy what you do without making sacrifices and trade-offs, and they end up having bad solutions both for your customers and their own previous customers. On the same hand, do not try to copy what other companies are doing - they have t ...more
Luciano Holanda
Nov 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book about Strategy. I haven't read Porter's original work, but I've heard it's not an easy feat to consume it all. This book provides actionable insights into how to assess and think about strategy. It's very helpful without being too dense or hard to read.

I've read other books on strategy, but this one still had a lot of unique perspectives and frameworks that helped a lot. I loved it so much I bought the author's other book: "What is Management."

Before reading on, do check
Olivier Grange-Labat
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I’m an absolute beginner on the subject of corporate strategies.

As such, the simple idea of being exposed to decades of Michael Porter’s work in such a short book was a source of excitement by itself.

This book didn’t fail to deliver and I really enjoyed reading it. It felt like some sort of good introduction on the subject, and at the same time that it could be read again to better understand it.

Exemples of strategies by IKEA, Rent a Car, Southwest Airlines, etc. were insightful to b
Apr 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
The book starts by exploring the question: What is competition in business? Then follows by exploring the concept of strategy as a response to competition. Porter’s work attempts to bridge the gap between the models of economic theory and the case studies of business practice. His frameworks of the ‘5 forces’ in my view successfully accomplishes that and Magretta manages to communicate Porter’s ideas neatly within this small book. Well worth a read for anyone wanting an introduction to business ...more
Nov 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing
An excellent high-level primer on the fundamentals of business strategy that covers Porter's Five Forces model and admonishes (1) capital markets, (2) "being the best", (3) growth. It also critiques some common ideas such as "operational efficiency (OE) is out strategy" or "our people are our strategy", which are, in reality, table stakes. OE is a prerequisite to superior performance, but will not, on its own, prevent imitators from catching up to you. True strategy, in Porter's model, involves ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Michael Porter has been at the forefront of academic literature related to strategy. This book excellently captures the ideas that he has talked about in various papers over the years.

The best part of the book is the lucid style of writing where Joan builds on the ideas of Porter one after the other such that each new concept reinforces the earlier topics. The book is replete with examples and popular misconceptions about Porters ideas. I would suggest the book to anyone who need a good overvie
Good overview of the all the key concepts of porter and surprisingly teaches you that strategy is not about remembering frameworks but rather doing the homework on what is the best path to 'sustainable advantage' based on your strengths, competitor weakness and market trends.
1. Figure out who you should target?
2. What are the unique needs you should solve for?
3. What is the unique value proposition?
4. What is the best set of activities & resources you can set up to achieve that value propositi
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111 likes · 12 comments
“Competing to be the best feeds on imitation. Competing to be unique thrives on innovation.” 10 likes
“Porter defines the value proposition as the answer to three fundamental questions (see figure 4-1): Which customers are you going to serve? Which needs are you going to meet? What relative price will provide acceptable value for customers and acceptable profitability for the company?” 2 likes
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