Understanding Michael Porter

  • by Joan Magretta
  • Narrated by Erik Synnestvedt
  • 6 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.

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- Brad

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.
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- Douglas C. Bates

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-12-2011
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC