I just loved the idea of communicating with the business audience using an easy-to-understand graphic format. Capturing the intangibles of business is certainly challenging and I found the illustrations to be a great framework for the reader to better understand what strategy is and why it’s such an important business concept. I can definitely see the graphics being used to help strategists explain critical issues to their colleagues (or clients) who are confused by, or less familiar with, this content.
I found the conversations that ran through the story allowed various perspectives to be aired and common misconceptions dealt with by Prof. Porter. Eg: his starting point when presented with the company’s strategy was,” Sorry to disappoint you folks, but that’s not a strategy not even close.”
I’ve found that strategy is one of those words.
It’s used in so many different ways.
Here Prof. Porter differentiates corporate strategy from competitive strategy then unpacks the latter. In many instances, the incorrect use of the word muddies the waters rather than creating a common framework within which everyone can work.
There are so many examples where the author and illustrator communicate difficult thoughts and common mistakes in smaller, bite-sized pieces. This makes them so much easier to digest. Eg: the importance of, “..creating unique value for the customers you seek to serve is contrasted with a widely held practice of “..competing to be the ‘best’ which the Professor emphasises is, “not a strategy. It’s a trap.” Whereas the consequences of setting a goal of being the best is that businesses chase the same customers, compete on the same dimensions, all look very similar to customers and so buying decisions are based on price with profits plummeting) the opposite is true if the goal is to invest in creating unique value (ie: the customer profile will be different, different dimensions will appeal, the product offering will look different and so prices will vary and so too the profitability).
Michael Porter is world-renowned for his strategic thinking and this format is likely to introduce his work to a new audience, which will be the benefit of many businesses. I do hope it increases the reader’s curiosity and that it encourages them to dig deeper into this subject matter. I’m not confident though that it can be a stand-alone resource for a new manager about to lead their first strategy.
I hope to see more of this approach going forward as I think there is a place for a different style of business book; one that is not so copy intensive, one for visual readers. Well done to author Joan Magretta, and illustrator Emile Holmewood for creating something new and piquing my interest. I really do hope to see more from you.
I can’t claim that I really related to the animal characters, but they are fun.
I think it would be probably easier to read/follow the story in a hard copy rather than as an e-book.
I highly recommend this book!
With thanks to #NetGalley, Harvard Review Press and the author for my free advanced reader copy to review in exchange for an honest opinion.
From the back cover:
When it comes to strategy, the mistake most managers make is thinking they have one when they don’t.
Joan Magretta, author of the bestselling book Understanding Michael Porter, has teamed up with illustrator Emile Holmewood to capture essential strategy concepts in a short, easy-to-understand, graphic format.
Here you’ll find the classic Porter frameworks—industry structure and the Five Forces, competitive advantage and the value chain—as well as a set of practical tests to apply in evaluating existing strategies or developing new ones. You’ll also learn Porter’s thinking about critical issues such as scale, goal setting, sustainability, and disruption.
With a relatable cast of characters—a deadlocked team of managers calls in Professor Porter to help them devise a new strategy—this book brings a sense of fun to a serious subject. It will help you quickly grasp the fundamentals of strategy, whether you’re a seasoned strategist looking to cut through all the new buzzwords or a new manager about to lead your first strategy meeting.