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According to Michael Porter, You’re Working on the Wrong Thing

Whatever you do, don't compete to be the best. Compete to be unique.
Michael Porter on strategic positioning

"Competitive Strategy"

"Understanding Michael Porter"

— Michael E. Porter, Harvard professor and author of the seminal management book Competitive Strategy (of “five forces” fame), speaking to global entrepreneurs about what he thinks is their epidemic inclination to try and win by doing what they do better than their competitors.

“The worst error in strategy is to compete with rivals [in] the same dimensions,” he reminds them. Don’t compete to be the best. “Compete to be unique.”


Not up on your Porter? By now, 30-some years after he started publishing, you have your work cut out for you. But here’s a shortcut: Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy, by Joan Magretta, published last winter. Magretta is a longtime Porter colleague and a management thought leader in her own right.


  1. Whether executive management teams recognize it or not, every enterprise shares the same three goals. These are to become a Company of Choice, an Employer of Choice, and an Investment of Choice within their firm’s particular industry niche.

    This is where differentiation comes in. Here’s a recent article that I wrote that expands on these ideas. I hope that it resonates with members of the Build Network:


    James M. Kerr
    Managing Partner,

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