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Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy | [Joan Magretta]

Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy

Michael Porter’s groundbreaking ideas on competition and strategy have unfolded over three decades and are spread across a dauntingly long list of publications. Every manager can name individual pieces of his work - competitive advantage, the value chain, five forces - but no one, not even Porter himself, has put the entire puzzle together to reveal it as an integrated whole. This lucid, concise audiobook does just that. This book provides an engaging summary of Porter’s ideas and an invaluable synthesis of this important body of work....
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Publisher's Summary

A Distillation of The Most Important Business Thinking of Our Time

Michael Porter’s groundbreaking ideas on competition and strategy have unfolded over three decades and are spread across a dauntingly long list of publications. Every manager can name individual pieces of his work - competitive advantage, the value chain, five forces - but no one, not even Porter himself, has put the entire puzzle together to reveal it as an integrated whole. This lucid, concise audiobook does just that. Written with Porter’s full cooperation by Joan Magretta, his former editor at Harvard Business Review, this book provides an engaging summary of Porter’s ideas and an invaluable synthesis of this important body of work, making clear how each of Porter’s powerful concepts relates to the others and, most important, to the practical realities managers face.

Modern thinking about competition and strategy begins with Porter’s frameworks. They are the most widely used in practice by managers around the world. But as Magretta points out, Porter is often misunderstood and his frameworks misapplied. Magretta’s own wide-ranging business experience allows her to identify the most common of these misconceptions - among them, the deeply held but dangerous belief that competition is about being the best. Understand Porter and you will see why competing to be the best sparks an inevitable race to the bottom.

Understanding Michael Porter will enable all leaders throughout any organization to grasp Porter’s seminal ideas about competition and strategy and deploy them to achieve competitive success.

©2011 Joan Magretta (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

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  •  
    Brad EATONS HILL, Australia 02-29-12
    Brad EATONS HILL, Australia 02-29-12
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    "Excellent book... but the narrator kills it"
    Any additional comments?

    The content of this book is excellent and it is one of the best books I have read on commercial strategy in a long time. It is a really thorough and clever summary of Porter's work, presented in a really accessible way. I have read a lot of Michael Porter's work previously but I still found that I got a lot out of this in the more 'macro' form it is presented in here. Unfortunately, the narrator makes it really hard to follow at some parts which in my view made this hard to get through. I nearly abandoned the audio and bought the kindle version just so i could stop listening to him.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 07-06-12
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 07-06-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Clearer Than The Original"

    The writing of many great thinkers can be difficult to follow. Their great points are often much clearer in the hands of other writers. Author Joan Magretta demonstrates this with the works of Michael Porter. It seems that most executives are aware of Porter, but few bother to read Porter because it's difficult reading. Magretta's work takes that barrier away.

    Everyone directly involved in business strategy needs to know Porter's thinking. "Understanding Michael Porter" is an excellent way to do it.

    One of the biggest and most common flaws Porter finds with typical business strategies is that they fall into the trap of thinking that if the company is the best at something, that will make the company successful, and further that there's something unique that the company can do to be the best. In reality, all the competitors are working hard to execute well. Striving to be the best is a zero-sum game that has everyone copying everyone else and that does not lead to profitability. Rule #1 is not to make this mistake.

    From there, Porter gets more complicated, describing the various types of strategies that can lead to superior profitability. The key thing is differentiation. Managers must make emotionally difficult decisions to ignore some opportunities so that they can focus on others.

    In my consulting work, I apply a simple test to determine whether the strategy avoids the error of aiming just to be the best and embraces differentiation. Write out the strategy in one or a few sentences. Reverse the meaning of the strategy statement. If the result sounds somewhat plausible as a strategy, then you have a real strategy. If the result sounds ridiculous, then you have a ridiculous strategy.

    Several reviewers have commented negatively on the performance given here by Erik Synnestvedt. I concur. The reader has an odd and annoying sing-songy drawing out of the end of most sentences, depending on the vowel sounds involved. You can hear it in the sample. At first it doesn't seem so bad, but after a couple of hours of it, it gets increasingly annoying and distracting.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Valby, Denmark 11-19-12
    Kim Valby, Denmark 11-19-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Best strategy book you could buy"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have already purchased 5 extra editions for colleagues and friends as a must read. This book greatly links strategy and the daily decisions we make on what to do.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Understanding Michael Porter?

    I never experienced strategy work to provide value - it has seemed more as management exercises than a roadmap for the organisation. I always felt that Lean, Process optimization etc. was overkill. Rather my focus has been on delivering value to customers with a pragmatic approach.
    This book - through a well communicated explanation of Porters strategy work - makes a compelling case for strategy work with its clear link between customer value, activities performed and company profitability. The concepts of Trade-off and fit are extremely powerful-
    A must read for anyone genuinely interested in understanding the links between company profitability, customer value and activities performed within the organisation.


    Have you listened to any of Erik Synnestvedt’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I really dislike the narration.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 04-19-12
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 04-19-12 Member Since 2005
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    "A Companion to Michael Porter"

    Many of us have well thumbed copies of Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy. Now Joan Magretta has made his work available to a wider audience with Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy. Think of Magretta’s book as a companion to Michael Porter and you will be right on point. Realistically, Porter’s book is not overly difficult to understand, but it does take study and some background. The strength of Magretta’s work is that Porter’s models become clear immediately. If you have read and understand Michael Porter this book is still valuable for its concise, relevant example and context. Readers from business settings will primarily benefit by this book, but decision makers from the not-for-profit sector will gain from reading this book as well. Read very well by Erik Synnestevdt .

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Long Beach, CA, United States 08-28-13
    Amazon Customer Long Beach, CA, United States 08-28-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Horrible and pompous narration"
    What made the experience of listening to Understanding Michael Porter the most enjoyable?

    The book is compelling and full of great information


    Would you be willing to try another one of Erik Synnestvedt’s performances?

    I would rather get kicked in the head by a horse ... A horse that was formed by merging several horses into one, such that the leg that kicks me made of 10 horses.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The narrator made me want to punch babies and then set the world on fire just to watch it burn.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ben FORT WAYNE, IN, United States 07-17-13
    Ben FORT WAYNE, IN, United States 07-17-13 Member Since 2012

    Ben

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    "Agreed. Good Content, Poor Narration"

    The book has good content, but the narrator uses the same annoying inflection on almost every single phrase. This made it very, very difficult to listen to for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Greenwich, CT, United States 01-07-13
    Terry Greenwich, CT, United States 01-07-13
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    "Voice-over detracted from the story."
    Would you try another book from Joan Magretta and/or Erik Synnestvedt?

    Probably not. The reader had an unique pronunciation that negatively affected my reading experience. I am a Porter fan.


    Was Understanding Michael Porter worth the listening time?

    yes


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James D Fogt Clayton, MO United States 05-22-12
    James D Fogt Clayton, MO United States 05-22-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Useful information"
    What made the experience of listening to Understanding Michael Porter the most enjoyable?

    The contents of the audio book will provide good reference points for individuals new to strategy. Many everyday conventions readily accepted in the work place are competently dismissed using Porter's models. Even if you don't come away with a complete understanding of strategy, you will undoubtedly acquire new ways of thinking about strategy and competitive advantage. Porter's 1996 Harvard Business Review article, "What is Strategy?" is a good bite-sized companion to this audio book. It is readily available online.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Canterbury, CT, United States 04-12-12
    Jason Canterbury, CT, United States 04-12-12
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    "Excellent Material!"

    Great material on competitive strategy. Unfortunately it was very difficult to tolerate the way the narrator finished the sentences. I almost stop listening. Using a kindle or nook woud be the way to go.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerardo Austin, TX, United States 06-30-14
    Gerardo Austin, TX, United States 06-30-14 Member Since 2011

    Businessman, Technologist, Marketer. Loves to learn and enjoys books. Mostly nonfiction plus historic novels.

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    "Strategy 101 - foundational for business people"

    It is hard to dispute Michael Porter is the master of strategy theory.

    For most, his books are dense and hard to read. not because they are poorly written, but because they intellectually profound and full of knowledge. Jon Magretta has succeeded in creating a 'Porter for the rest of us' that makes the teachings of Michael Porter accesible and easy to understand. It is not really 'Strategy for dummies' as the book assumes a good level of business acumen.

    While I was already familiar with most of Michael Porter's thoughts I found this book to be entertaining and enlightening. This is not a book I want to listen to during my commute as it would make it impossible or dangerous to take notes. And I took plenty.

    The book is well organized and well summarized. I particularly liked the summary at the end and and the FAQs.

    Absolutely must read for anyone leading a business.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Brendan
    United Kingdom
    12/1/13
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    "great summary of porter"
    If you could sum up Understanding Michael Porter in three words, what would they be?

    logical, simple enjoyable


    What other book might you compare Understanding Michael Porter to, and why?

    I read alot of business books so i cant say whether one stands out.


    What does Erik Synnestvedt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    He was very clear, I can say that it was very easy to listen to and I have remembered alot of it. It was very powerful so I cannot recommend it better than that.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It really made me think about my own business. There are some basic concepts in here that are very useful. Most people in business, simply run from on year end to the next without trying to change things. The main features of porter writings come out in this book so it will help you develop your own, even at a very basic level which is exactly what is needed, if you even just want to make small changes each year, to better your working life which will impact your outside life too then.


    Any additional comments?

    Really enjoyed this book, stuck to several key themes which made it very vivid. I learned alot from this book and am reviewing the strategy in my own business or the lack of it as it turns out!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    Sheffield, United Kingdom
    7/24/12
    Overall
    "Great content - Grating delivery"

    The author really does achieve the stated aim of a powerful exec summary of the main Porter works. Five forces, leads onto the key strategy points, all of which are well explained. The examples throughout fit really well, and give a bit of a break from the detail.

    I really struggled with the delivery though. As a Brit, I am used to listening to US narrators on audiobooks. However, this one pushes things just a little bit too far - it is Stra-te-gy, not Strad-er-gieee! I'm afraid that Mr Synnerstvedt is the reason why I haven't started my second listen yet to pick up all of the things that I missed first time round.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jakob
    Skanderborg, Denmark
    1/14/12
    Overall
    "Decent"

    The book is fine, if not very helpful. as the description says Magretta does not try to teach you anything you cannot get from Porter himself. She only tries to build examples that would make Porters points more clear. The narrator however is something else, never before have I heard a more annoying reading of a book. He blitzes through most of the text and then for some reason draws out the last word of almost every sentence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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