Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy” as Want to Read:
Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,746 ratings  ·  113 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Understanding Michael Porter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Understanding Michael Porter

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,746 ratings  ·  113 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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!
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Solid, proper business book right here. It’s good to pick apart the brain of one of Harvard’s finest. Definitely a more dry, boring, or a “just the facts” version of a Zero to One or Play Bigger — but is more technically sound (like reading proper sheet music rather than producing music intuitively). Peter Thiel’s 0-1 Being one of my all-time favorite business books, it’s now evident that most of his opinions on competition/strategy are adapted from Porter’s and Drucker’s landmark works.

After r
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’
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
Shraddha Pant
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book seeks to understand competition and strategy in a lot better way than the text books. The language is simple and engaging. The author starts by extolling Michael Porter's work on identifying forces that shape up competition and then she moves on to dismiss the myths surrounding interpretations of his work through examples of some of the best companies across the world to make a compelling case on why Porter's work is much more than what it looks on the surface. The interview with Michae ...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
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Competitive advantage is a relative concept, so it requires a solid understanding of the industry structure. The book provides a high-level summary of MP's ideas, but it is a little too simplistic. I prefer Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy , which primarily focuses on the barriers to entry. ...more
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.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Concise, clear overview on Porter’s work

I enjoyed the book. I have both Porter’s key books on my shelf and never read them completely through. I read this one and it kept my attention, hit the core of Porter’s frameworks and used a lot of supplemental material from Porter to fill in gaps. Had a nice flow and writing style is good. Porter’s work stands the test of time for business strategy. If you want a good distillation of Porter’s timeless principles it’s worth’s a read.
Ibrahima Diallo
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author explains in great details the philosophy of Michael Porter on Strategy and sustained competitive advantage. I find the second part of the book very interesting for anyone who wants to know about the five rules (requirements) of a great strategy. Make sure you read the author's interview of Mr. Porter at the end of the book. Very fascinating.
Jocelyn Mit
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Between this and a copy of Competitive Strategy, I started with the smaller one of course. I enjoyed this as it was well summarised and had all the important bits about Porter’s work on competition. I recommend it to anyone who would shape strategy in companies of any size, managers and entrepreneurs.
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.
Brad Armstrong
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very clear and readable introductions to the essentials of real business strategy. Certainly recommended if you didn't get these basics in school.

Doesn't really apply to today's VC funded hyper-growth model for companies, at least not those who are not actually trying to be profitable and viable in the long-term.
Adrian Lee
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This resonated on so many levels, and helped to crystallise my understanding of why Porter isn't just another management fad. There's a method to his theory that forces you to question just what it means to compete and strategise. And no... it's not about being the best.
Cezary Zminkowski
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
must read if you want to understand what is behind the abstract world "strategy" and even you use it right with your intuition, after having this book red you will be able to be much more efficient in defining, evolving and implementing strategies in many areas.
Faheem Kajee
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Some good reminders about core elements of a good strategy.

Most relevant is that you shouldn’t strive generically to ”be the best”, but rather you should find a specific set of things you do better than competitors. It’s about competitive advantage and being clear about who your customer is.
Jose Auad
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a perfect explanation of what Michael Porter is trying to say about the competition between companies and the strategy that new companies should take in this market.

It left me marked as it talks about differentiation, I loved it.
Jason Mesiarik
Aug 11, 2019 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
"Michael Porter didn't get to be a giant in the field of competition and strategy by hunting small game" and neither did we. This could be a valuable tools for those without the diligence to pour through Porter's tomes.
Robert Martin
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A highly accessible guide to Porter, which shows that there is much more to his thinking that the famous Five Forces. A common misconception is that the Five Forces can tell you about a company's competitive position. Instead, they are meant to characterise the competitive structure of the industry – separate analysis is needed to understand the strategy of companies within the industry.
Drew Clancy
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: next-next, z-3m
Really enjoyed this book. Terrific summary of Porter's work. Well written and straight forward to apply.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors
  • Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance
  • Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
  • 7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy
  • Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy
  • The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action
  • Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond
  • HBR's 10 Must Reads on Strategy (including featured article “What Is Strategy?” by Michael E. Porter)
  • The Little Book That Builds Wealth: The Knockout Formula for Finding Great Investments
  • Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
  • The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness
  • You Can Be a Stock Market Genius: Uncover the Secret Hiding Places of Stock Market Profits
  • The Little Book of Value Investing
  • Billion Dollar Brand Club: The Rebel Startups Disrupting Industry Empires
  • Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor
  • The Psychology of Money
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles
  • Competing Against Luck
See similar books…

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
4 likes · 1 comments
“Competing to be the best feeds on imitation. Competing to be unique thrives on innovation.” 9 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
More quotes…