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HBR's 10 Must Reads on Strategy (including featured article “What Is Strategy?” by Michael E. Porter) Paperback – February 7, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“…this provides a lot of insight, information, and advice that will help readers.” — Free Press Journal

About the Author

HBR's 10 Must Reads paperback series is the definitive collection of books for new and experienced leaders alike. Leaders looking for the inspiration that big ideas provide, both to accelerate their own growth and that of their companies, should look no further.

HBR's 10 Must Reads series focuses on the core topics that every ambitious manager needs to know: leadership, strategy, change, managing people, and managing yourself. Harvard Business Review has sorted through hundreds of articles and selected only the most essential reading on each topic. Each title includes timeless advice that will be relevant regardless of an ever-changing business environment.

Classic ideas, enduring advice, the best thinkers: HBR's 10 Must Reads.

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Product Details

  • Series: HBR's 10 Must Reads
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (February 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422157989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422157985
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harvard Business Review is the leading destination for smart management thinking. Through its flagship magazine, 13 international licensed editions, books from Harvard Business Review Press, and digital content and tools published on, Harvard Business Review provides professionals around the world with rigorous insights and best practices to lead themselves and their organizations more effectively and to make a positive impact.

Harvard Business Review Press is a leading global book publisher and a division of the Harvard Business Review Group. HBR Press publishes for the general, professional, and academic markets on the topics of leadership, strategy, innovation, and management. Recent bestselling titles include Playing to Win, A Sense of Urgency, Conscious Capitalism, The First 90 Days, and HBR Must Reads on Leadership. For more information, please visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs on February 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are plenty of books available on strategy, but most business leaders do not have a lot of time to read them. Where can you go to get a reasonably-priced introduction to the ideas of some of the leading experts on business strategy? This book provides one possible answer. It includes essays on strategy and the five competitive forces by Michael Porter, building a vision by Collins and Porras, blue ocean strategy by Kim and Mauborgne, and the balanced scorecard by Kaplan and Norton.

Although I found the essays by each of the above-mentioned authors less inspiring and enlightening than their books on the same subjects, this compilation does give a good introduction to their ideas, and will help the reader discern whether to take the next step and read the authors' books. Each essay contains sidebars including an "Idea in Brief" sidebar which will help the busy reader further; however, in the Kindle version the sidebars simply appear in the main text, which interrupts the flow and can lead to confusion.

Not all strategic advice is good advice. In my view the advice given in the essay "Transforming Corner-Office Strategy into Frontline Action" leaves something to be desired. The idea of distilling a company's entire strategy into "one pithy, memorable and descriptive phrase" may appeal to some, but I really struggle to see its value. Examples include AOL ("Consumer Connectivity first - anytime, anywhere"), GE ("Be number one or number two in every industry in which we compete, or get out"), Dell ("Be direct"), and eBay ("Focus on trading communities"). Do any of these actually communicate useful strategies, or are they meaningless mantras?

On the other hand, I found the other essays on essentially the same topic (turning strategy into action) quite useful.
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Format: Paperback
This volume is one of several in a new series of anthologies of articles that initially appeared in the Harvard Business Review, in this instance from 1960 until 2006. Remarkably, none seems dated; on the contrary, if anything, all seem more relevant now than ever before as their authors discuss what are (literally) essential dimensions of formulating and then executing an effective strategy.

My own opinion is that strategies are "hammers" that drive tactics ("nails) and the key is to get a strategy in proper alignment with the ultimate objectives as well as with an organization's various activities. That said, what we have in this volume is a variety of thoughtful perspectives on strategy provide by those who are among the world's most highly-regarded authorities on the subject.

More specifically, the reader learns how to understand what strategy is and isn't as well as what it does and (doesn't) do, and, how to manage/leverage the five competitive forces that shape strategy (Michael E. Porter); also, how to build a company's vision (James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras), how to reinvent a business model (Mark W. Johnson, Clayton M. Christensen, and Henning Kagermann), how to formulate and then execute a "blue ocean strategy" (W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne), how to take full advantage of the "secrets" of effective strategy execution (Gary L. Neilson, Karla L. Martin, and Elizabeth Powers), how to use the Balanced Scorecard as a strategic management system (Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton), how to transform corner-office strategy into frontline action (Orit Gadiesh and James L. Gilbert), how to turn great strategy into great performance (Michael C.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Golden Lion VINE VOICE on November 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
The basics of strategic competition

1. Understand competitive behavior
2. Understand how a strategy will rebalance competitive equilibrium
3. Understand commitment of resources even if deferred benefits
4. The ability to predict risk and return enough to make a commitment
5. The willingness to act

Barriers to entry
1. Scales to production, research, and marketing are barriers
2. To create barriers companies combine economies of scale with brand
3. Capital requirements limit entry into many markets
4. Entrenched companies may have cost advantage not available to potential reviles
5. A new product must displace existing product by cost reduction, promotions, intense selling efforts, or new distribution channels
6. Regulation can limit entry into a business

Suppliers can exert bargaining power by reducing profitability by raising prices or reducing the quality of their products

A supplier is strong if it does not have to contend with other products in the industry

Buyers find alternate suppliers and play one against another to reduce price or improve quality

Highly profitable buyers are less price sensitive . The buyer is interested in quality

Consumers are more sensitive to price purchasing an undifferentiated product where quality is not an issue

A company improves its strategic position by finding buyers and suppliers that can not a adversely affect it.
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