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7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy

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What are the secrets to making a company enduringly valuable? 7 Powers breaks fresh ground by constructing a comprehensive strategy toolset that is easy for you to learn, communicate and quickly apply. Drawing on his decades of experience as a business strategy advisor, active equity investor and Stanford University teacher, Hamilton Helmer develops from first principles a What are the secrets to making a company enduringly valuable? 7 Powers breaks fresh ground by constructing a comprehensive strategy toolset that is easy for you to learn, communicate and quickly apply. Drawing on his decades of experience as a business strategy advisor, active equity investor and Stanford University teacher, Hamilton Helmer develops from first principles a practical theory of Strategy rooted in the notion of Power, those conditions which create the potential for persistent differential returns. Using rich real-world examples, Helmer rigorously characterizes exactly what your business must achieve to create Power. And create Power it must, for without it your business is at risk. He explains why invention always comes first and then develops the Power Progression to enable you to target when your Power must be established: in the Origination, Take-Off or Stability phases of your business. Every business faces a do-or-die strategy moment: a crux directional choice made amidst swirling uncertainty. To get this right you need at your fingertips a real-time strategy compass to discern your true north. 7 Powers is that compass.


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What are the secrets to making a company enduringly valuable? 7 Powers breaks fresh ground by constructing a comprehensive strategy toolset that is easy for you to learn, communicate and quickly apply. Drawing on his decades of experience as a business strategy advisor, active equity investor and Stanford University teacher, Hamilton Helmer develops from first principles a What are the secrets to making a company enduringly valuable? 7 Powers breaks fresh ground by constructing a comprehensive strategy toolset that is easy for you to learn, communicate and quickly apply. Drawing on his decades of experience as a business strategy advisor, active equity investor and Stanford University teacher, Hamilton Helmer develops from first principles a practical theory of Strategy rooted in the notion of Power, those conditions which create the potential for persistent differential returns. Using rich real-world examples, Helmer rigorously characterizes exactly what your business must achieve to create Power. And create Power it must, for without it your business is at risk. He explains why invention always comes first and then develops the Power Progression to enable you to target when your Power must be established: in the Origination, Take-Off or Stability phases of your business. Every business faces a do-or-die strategy moment: a crux directional choice made amidst swirling uncertainty. To get this right you need at your fingertips a real-time strategy compass to discern your true north. 7 Powers is that compass.

30 review for 7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cedric Chin

    Quite possibly the only book about business strategy you ever need to read. This is miles better, and more practical than Rumelt or Porter, and it resolves for me some of the edge cases with Christensen’s disruption theory. It’s great.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Auerbach

    This book is a good starting point to think about business strategy, but has a few flaws and over-generalizations. My biggest personal annoyance that pervades the book is a conflicting view on markets that is never reconciled. In one chapter Helmer proclaims that passive etfs are superior to other forms of investing, but later posits that his methodology has allowed him to outperform the market. The examples are cherry-picked to fit a narrative and the book primarily focuses on all or nothing st This book is a good starting point to think about business strategy, but has a few flaws and over-generalizations. My biggest personal annoyance that pervades the book is a conflicting view on markets that is never reconciled. In one chapter Helmer proclaims that passive etfs are superior to other forms of investing, but later posits that his methodology has allowed him to outperform the market. The examples are cherry-picked to fit a narrative and the book primarily focuses on all or nothing strategies, with little discussion of tactics. The appendices proving the mathematics behind concepts such as economies of scale were largely unnecessary to explain business maxims. It provided good overarching themes and was a quick enjoyable read, but doesn’t offer any outside the box insights.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zhou Fang

    I really think this book is overrated. A lot of people in Silicon Valley seem to love this book and it's highly recommended by Reed Hastings, who wrote the foreword. If you find it too cumbersome to read Porter, Christensen, and Greenwald, then this book is not a bad summary of some of the bigger ideas in their works. However, a lot of the text is circular theory dressed up with Econ math to explain some tangentially relevant cases. It reads like an Econ PhD wanting to show the business world th I really think this book is overrated. A lot of people in Silicon Valley seem to love this book and it's highly recommended by Reed Hastings, who wrote the foreword. If you find it too cumbersome to read Porter, Christensen, and Greenwald, then this book is not a bad summary of some of the bigger ideas in their works. However, a lot of the text is circular theory dressed up with Econ math to explain some tangentially relevant cases. It reads like an Econ PhD wanting to show the business world that he has a very original set of ideas which are really a loose collection of existing work dressed up with unnecessary algebra. The central idea of this book is that business value creation requires the seeking of "Power," which Helmer defines as the set of conditions for creating the potential for persistent differential returns. In other words, the business can earn superior economics over a long period of time (sounds oddly familiar...). He identifies 7 Powers: 1. Scale Economies - ability to spread fixed costs over a larger customer base and use pricing to edge out competitors. Netflix spreading original content costs over its user base is an example 2. Network Economies - value accrues to the product or service because other people use it. Network economies often exhibit qualities such as (1) winner take all market; a tipping point occurs after which it becomes very difficult to unseat the incumbent (2) boundedness; only relevant for a particular domain--Facebook is for personal use, LinkedIn professional (3) Decisive early product - who scales fastest may be determined by who gets a good product early on to attract the critical mass of users 3. Counter positioning - A newcomer adopts a superior business model the incumbent does not mimic due to anticipated damage to their existing business. For example, Vanguard's low-fee index fund model was difficult for Fidelity to copy because Fidelity's core business which was very profitable relied on active strategies which charged high fees. Adopting Vanguard's approach in combination with existing business model would have risked making the entire business less profitable 4. Switching costs - self explanatory. Example used is SAP has terrible customer feedback but most users do not want to switch because of the disruption it would cause to their business 5. Branding - self explanatory. People pay more for Coke even if it tastes the exact same as a private label Cola 6. Cornered resource - below market price to an exclusive good. Pixar had John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, along with the rest of the Brain Trust, which provided hit after hit after hit. Additionally, these people were not easily hired away by Disney simply for money 7. Process power - benefits of hysteresis--doing something and improving it over a long period of time that confers an advantage. Toyota's manufacturing process was not easily copied by others, even though Toyota was open in sharing its best practices with competitors like GM. Over time excellence in process gets internalized over a complex and long set of actions and is difficult to replicate quickly Look I think this book emphasizes many of the right ideas about business analysis, and provides some useful frameworks for thinking about businesses. But two of the powers, cornered resource and process power, are literally non-explanations. The book struggles to define how having a group of people who consistently produced hits at Pixar is a "cornered resource" other than the fact that they all wanted to work there and were creative geniuses, and so you couldn't pay them enough to do it somewhere else. That seems like a fairly intuitive advantage in and of itself. Similarly, process power and the Toyota Production Model is not explained at all, and is simply labeled as an example of success due to a process that someone spent a long time working at which is difficult to replicate. Again, this seems like a unique example that is self explanatory. Even counter -positioning, which is perhaps the only original idea in this book, is struggling to differentiate itself clearly as a concept from Christensen's concept of Disruptive Technologies in the book The Innovator's Dilemma, despite the author's attempt to distinguish the two. The example of Kodak facing digital cameras as a disruptive technology and not counter positioning is relatively clear. Kodak invented the digital camera, but the company's expertise was in film not semiconductors, so it was not a business model counterpositioning that did Kodak in. But the concept does not appear to distinguish itself in many of the examples that Christensen brings up in The Innovator's Dilemma. Indeed, a central concept of Christensen's argument is that even incumbents that have leading expertise in the disruptive technology find themselves at odds with cannibalizing their own business because of the strategic problems it creates. Ultimately I think this book would be fine if (1) It cut out the unnecessary simplistic Econ math (2) The author didn't act like this was an incredibly inventive work and (3) the concepts of cornered resource and process power were not a bunch of circular non-explanations. I don't get why this book is so highly regarded.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vikrama Dhiman

    Mind-blowing Simply, the best book on Strategy and strategy. Pick it up. Read it once a year before the yearly planning.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tanner

    Audible. Found this book super pragmatic. I've read and discussed strategy a lot in my life that doesn't engrain itself into my thinking fully. Hamilton's 'simple, not simplistic' framework just feels very useful. Listening to it means I didn't dive as deep into the math or some nuances, yet the 7 powers and associated examples are great to get me started. Most helpful business book I've read in a while. Audible. Found this book super pragmatic. I've read and discussed strategy a lot in my life that doesn't engrain itself into my thinking fully. Hamilton's 'simple, not simplistic' framework just feels very useful. Listening to it means I didn't dive as deep into the math or some nuances, yet the 7 powers and associated examples are great to get me started. Most helpful business book I've read in a while.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dickson Pau

    Awesome One of the best books on competitive advantages. More complete than Competition Demystified in my opinion. Love it that the author is a successful investor himself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lam

    Provide a totally new angle about strategy. Need to think much when reading this one. Will re-read this book for sure

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Howarth

    I’m torn between the fact that the basic framework is pretty useful and the fact that the author’s tone and writing style is insufferably smug. We are treated to lengthy derivations of pretty straightforward formulas (the author can rearrange equations!) and a whole Appendix where the author investigates how successful his own investing experiences have been. At least I’ll give the author credit for making bold and falsifiable claims, e.g. that his framework is an exhaustive account of all the st I’m torn between the fact that the basic framework is pretty useful and the fact that the author’s tone and writing style is insufferably smug. We are treated to lengthy derivations of pretty straightforward formulas (the author can rearrange equations!) and a whole Appendix where the author investigates how successful his own investing experiences have been. At least I’ll give the author credit for making bold and falsifiable claims, e.g. that his framework is an exhaustive account of all the strategies available to business. If this is correct, this is very useful; if incorrect, at least the author opens himself up to be challenged.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John

    Synopsis The value of a business can be measured as a function of the size of its industry’s market (that is, total possible customers and how much they buy), its permanent share of that market, and its permanent ability to earn money over and above what it pays on money it borrows and what the owners could get on their money elsewhere (cost of capital). For businesses with a large positive value, the author calls these last two items taken together ‘Powers’. There are seven (and only seven) Powe Synopsis The value of a business can be measured as a function of the size of its industry’s market (that is, total possible customers and how much they buy), its permanent share of that market, and its permanent ability to earn money over and above what it pays on money it borrows and what the owners could get on their money elsewhere (cost of capital). For businesses with a large positive value, the author calls these last two items taken together ‘Powers’. There are seven (and only seven) Powers. Each has a benefit. This benefit is either more value to a business’s customers or lowered costs to the business. Each Power also raises a barrier to its competitors to copying this Power. For a business to have a Power, it must have both a benefit and a barrier. The seven Powers are: SCALE Scale is the size of a business – how many customers, how much it sells. A larger company is said to have more scale. BENEFIT A larger company can spread its fixed costs over more sales and will have a lower cost for each item it sells. It can either lower its price to its customers, attracting more customers, or earn a higher profit – the difference between the price its sells its products of services and the cost it pays to produce them. For example, my neighborhood store pays the same rent each month whether it sells 100 cans of Monster or 100,000. In the first case, the rent is $10/can, in the second, it’s $0.01/can. (Let’s hope they’re selling more than Monster!). A store with more sales has a huge advantage. It has scale. BARRIER It is hard to achieve scale against a competitor that already has it. If the smaller store tries to lower its price to sell more Monster, the bigger store can lower its price too, but it has a lower cost, so it doesn’t hurt the bigger store as much. If the smaller store raises prices to match its higher cost, customers will go elsewhere. NETWORK ECONOMIES Network economies mean the more people using a company’s product or service, the better it is for each customer (unlike SCALE where ‘more’ benefits the company). BENEFIT To see why this is so, look at the network economies of Uber. For every new rider Uber signs up, that’s potentially more business for each driver. For every new driver they sign up, that’s less wait time for riders. New riders go to the service with the most drivers and drivers go to the service with the most riders. The cycle feeds on itself. BARRIER Like SCALE, the smaller firm has to offer something else to its customers to overcome the advantages the larger network provides and offer more means costs will be higher for the smaller network. SWITCHING COSTS Switching costs are just what they sound like – the cost the customer pays to switch from one product or system to another. For many products, there are no switching costs – most people can switch from Coke to Pepsi without much worry. But let’s say you want to switch to an Apple phone from an Android. There are many costs from the price of the new phone to the time it takes to learn where to find all your old apps and sign back in. BENEFIT Customers have a better experience. The more friends you have on the same payment or social networking app, the better it is for you. Also, switching means learning something new and worrying it won’t work the way you’re used to. Finally, you might just like being someone who uses Product A instead of Product B. BARRIER Like the previous two Powers, a firm has to make it worth the customer’s while to switch. For example, a phone carrier may buy out the termination penalty of the existing carrier. These costs make competing unattractive. These three Powers are usually established when the company is growing really fast. COUNTER-POSITIONING Counter-Positioning means doing things completely different – and better – than your established competitors. BENEFIT Before smartphones, before digital cameras even, to take a photograph you would load film into a camera, take a picture, wait until you had a dozen or so pictures, and take them to drugstore (or mail them if you lived in the boonies) without looking at them first, pay someone to develop them, and make a second trip to pick up the finished product. Firms with COUNTER-POSITIONING Power deliver a superior product or experience is ways that are completely different than existing companies. BARRIER Barriers are often self-imposed by existing firms. They choose not to compete because they don’t see themselves as being in the same business as the new technology. Kodak saw itself in the film business despite having developed the first digital hand-held camera. CORNERED RESOURCE A CORNERED RESOURCE is a one-of-a-kind something that only one company has access to. That can be an invention, process, or formula (like Coke’s secret recipe), a unique talent, or even characters (like the Marvel Universe). BENEFIT With a CORNERED RESOURCE, a company is in the position to deliver something to a customer that no one else can. This attracts more customers and allows the company to charge more. BARRIER Competitors can’t copy the CORNERED RESOURCE, either because they are one-of-a-kind or it is illegal to do so. These two Powers are almost always established in the beginning before the company really starts to grow. BRANDING Customers attach value to ‘gotta-have’ brands over and above the product itself. Air Jordans are more than just a nice pair of shoes. BENEFIT In addition to the good feeling a brand brings to the customer, customers usually have less uncertainty about what to expect from a well-known brand. BARRIER It takes a lot of time to establish a well-known brand with a good reputation. PROCESS POWER Doing things better. This is a rare Power because every company is continually improving so it is hard to pull ahead of competitors. BENEFIT A better product or experience for the customer. BARRIER It takes time to develop the processes that let you pull ahead of your competitors and stay there. Because of the time it takes, BRANDING and PROCESS POWER are usually seen in older, stable businesses. The source of all these Powers is invention: of a product or process, of a brand, or of a new way of organizing – a business model. These inventions have value where there is a desire for something by the customer that a company has the capability to provide that their competitors do not.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert Martin

    This is the kind of book I had envisioned when people (especially technical folks like software engineers) make jokes about MBAs and their love of strategy books. There is a tonne of jargon and most of the book is spent reframing the world in the author's framework. This all sounds very critical but the truth is that I really enjoyed it. The 7 Powers is a digestible but comprehensive look at the subject of "competitive advantage" – value investors endlessly preach about the value of finding a moa This is the kind of book I had envisioned when people (especially technical folks like software engineers) make jokes about MBAs and their love of strategy books. There is a tonne of jargon and most of the book is spent reframing the world in the author's framework. This all sounds very critical but the truth is that I really enjoyed it. The 7 Powers is a digestible but comprehensive look at the subject of "competitive advantage" – value investors endlessly preach about the value of finding a moat (like Buffett's investment in Coca Cola due to its branding) but don't offer much advice in the way of characterising a moat. The 7 Powers details 7 ways in which a company can build durable differential margins, ranging from the obvious ones like Branding and Scale/Network Economies to more subtle factors like counter-positioning (Netflix) and process power (Toyota). Filled with tangible examples as well as sufficient generalisation as well as clear diagrams for future reference, the 7 Powers is clearly designed to be used practically. I came across this book while listening to Episode 174 of the Invest Like The Best podcast (Patrick O'Shaughnessy) and the concepts were interesting enough to warrant a read of the book. But if you don't have time to read the book, the podcast is a fantastic summary.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian Sachetta

    I heard about this one through the “Acquired” podcast. The hosts of that show regularly work Helmer’s “7 powers” into their discussions, so, after listening to several episodes, I felt I had to check this book out for myself. In the end, I found it to be okay. The work is centered around seven ways that companies can create power (the ability to realize persistent and sustainable returns). I won’t spoil those seven subjects for you here, otherwise, I’d be giving away the bulk of the book. And that I heard about this one through the “Acquired” podcast. The hosts of that show regularly work Helmer’s “7 powers” into their discussions, so, after listening to several episodes, I felt I had to check this book out for myself. In the end, I found it to be okay. The work is centered around seven ways that companies can create power (the ability to realize persistent and sustainable returns). I won’t spoil those seven subjects for you here, otherwise, I’d be giving away the bulk of the book. And that brings to light my main complaint with this one: I didn’t feel as though there was a ton of substance to it besides learning what those seven powers were. Sure, I was still excited to find out about them, but the process of getting there was a bit uninspiring or surface-level at times. What I did love was the more specific company breakdowns, such as those related to the rise of Netflix. Such stories provide much-needed application and help illustrate the seven powers quite well. However, those stories are lacking in number; I would've liked more of them. For the reasons above, I’m not too sure I’d recommend this one. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, just that I think there’s more value to be had elsewhere, first. -Brian Sachetta Author of “Get Out of Your Head”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abi Tyas Tunggal

    7 Powers is my favorite book on strategy. Hamilton Helmer provides real world examples grounded in decades of experience as a strategy advisor, active equity investor, and Stanford University professor that help us build a set of mental models to think through strategy. The crux of 7 Powers is a business can try to improve its strengths, mitigate its weaknesses, eliminate competitor risk, better serve its customers, maximize shareholder value, or take advantage of its pricing power. But there are v 7 Powers is my favorite book on strategy. Hamilton Helmer provides real world examples grounded in decades of experience as a strategy advisor, active equity investor, and Stanford University professor that help us build a set of mental models to think through strategy. The crux of 7 Powers is a business can try to improve its strengths, mitigate its weaknesses, eliminate competitor risk, better serve its customers, maximize shareholder value, or take advantage of its pricing power. But there are very few times when a business can do all at once. What Hamilton Helmer provides us, through 7 Powers, is a comprehensive strategic framework that can help every business choose what to focus on next. If you’re looking for a teaser of the book, I spent some time writing up notes. You can find them here: https://theinterleavingeffect.com/p/7... or as a podcast here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1kWw...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alexej Gerstmaier

    Thiel recommends this, was *really* good, even practically useful as a simple compass. Seven Powers are Scale Economies Network Effects Counter Positioning Switching Costs Branding Cornered Resource Process Power Out of these, I found CP and PP to be most interesting/surprising. The points regarding the Toyota Production System were super interesting as I already read a bunch of books about that topic: "TPS is not what it seems. On the surface, it consists of a fairly straightforward variety of interloc Thiel recommends this, was *really* good, even practically useful as a simple compass. Seven Powers are Scale Economies Network Effects Counter Positioning Switching Costs Branding Cornered Resource Process Power Out of these, I found CP and PP to be most interesting/surprising. The points regarding the Toyota Production System were super interesting as I already read a bunch of books about that topic: "TPS is not what it seems. On the surface, it consists of a fairly straightforward variety of interlocking procedures, such as jit production, kaizen, kanban, andon cords. It turns out these techniques merely manifest some deeper, more complex system." "The issue is how do you support that system with all the other functions that have to take place in the org?" The part about Dynamics and power progression about at what point in the business development there are windows of opportunity for developing a power seems useful as well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Chan

    What makes this book stand out from the others is its focus on using strategy to build a meaningful and lasting business, not just purely drive business growth. In the tech industry nowadays, people are so obsessed with product/market fit and try to drive growth via rapid optimization but there was not much discussion about what companies should do beyond product/market fit. Why some of those post P/M fit companies became great (10x) but some could barely survive (10%)? This book will tell you t What makes this book stand out from the others is its focus on using strategy to build a meaningful and lasting business, not just purely drive business growth. In the tech industry nowadays, people are so obsessed with product/market fit and try to drive growth via rapid optimization but there was not much discussion about what companies should do beyond product/market fit. Why some of those post P/M fit companies became great (10x) but some could barely survive (10%)? This book will tell you that a sound strategy can make the difference between an initial product/market fit being ephemeral versus the beginning of a significant and enduring business. It narrowly defines a successful strategy as creating a route to persistent differential returns for a business, giving people a new mental model for thinking about how to build a moat, especially for tech companies.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    Business strategy condensed into an easy-to-remember framework. A "power" is what drives lasting dominance - it is the combination of a benefit, and a barrier that prevents a given competitor from attaining that benefit. Though there are many strategies that provide a benefit to a company, there are only a limited set that _also_ have a barrier sufficient to prevent a competitor from attaining that same benefit and therefore reducing profit margin through competitive arbitrage. The author descri Business strategy condensed into an easy-to-remember framework. A "power" is what drives lasting dominance - it is the combination of a benefit, and a barrier that prevents a given competitor from attaining that benefit. Though there are many strategies that provide a benefit to a company, there are only a limited set that _also_ have a barrier sufficient to prevent a competitor from attaining that same benefit and therefore reducing profit margin through competitive arbitrage. The author describes what he considers to be an exhaustive set of 7 potential powers: Scale, Network, Switching costs, Cornered resource, Counter-positioning, Process, Branding. I found both the framework and the explanation of each power to be compelling and have found myself trying to apply this framework to understand (or think of ways to improve) the business strategy of the company where I work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    4.5/5 stars. Excellent book on business strategy, particularly since it covered the topic through a novel lens. Helmer described each ‘power’ first with a case study of a company, then by describing the intricacies of it, and finally with a proof how each power drives continued excess profitability it in the chapter appendix. The mix of anecdotes and a mathematical derivation of how wielding each power gives a company the ability for excess profits (i.e. "alpha") made this book the whole package. 4.5/5 stars. Excellent book on business strategy, particularly since it covered the topic through a novel lens. Helmer described each ‘power’ first with a case study of a company, then by describing the intricacies of it, and finally with a proof how each power drives continued excess profitability it in the chapter appendix. The mix of anecdotes and a mathematical derivation of how wielding each power gives a company the ability for excess profits (i.e. "alpha") made this book the whole package. The author set out to be "simple but not simplistic." This book was not simple. It behooves you to brush up on your knowledge of mathematical logic and expand your vocabulary before picking up this title. I’d have given this book five stars if it was written in a way the reader could better find flow or if it was accessible to a wider audience.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ben Van Horn

    For any business to succeed in the long term, they must have a durable business model. The notion of Power that Helmer writes about in this book is comprised of two aspects. A Benefit and a Barrier. The benefit is something that your company does that is highly valued or better than most of your competitors in your industry. A barrier is such that you have a position in the marketplace that cannot be arbitraged. Something that no other competitor can take away from you. Helmer shares a deep dive For any business to succeed in the long term, they must have a durable business model. The notion of Power that Helmer writes about in this book is comprised of two aspects. A Benefit and a Barrier. The benefit is something that your company does that is highly valued or better than most of your competitors in your industry. A barrier is such that you have a position in the marketplace that cannot be arbitraged. Something that no other competitor can take away from you. Helmer shares a deep dive in various powers from Branding, to Counter-Positioning, to Scale, and others by sharing examples of Intel, Netflix, and Pixar.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Best business strategy book I’ve read, and it’s not close I’ve read most of the popular business, strategy, and investing books through my career as an investor thus far. While many of those texts are worth the time and effort, 7 Powers clearly stands alone as the most comprehensive and cogent work that intertwines business strategy with value creation. I could write quite a bit more about this book, but suffice to say, just buy it and read it (then read it again). It’s that good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Valentine

    Read this in preparation for the Acquired.fm book club. I think it will be most useful as a kind of guidebook, a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Whiteboard if you will, for diagnosing different businesses and their strategies. I also think it'll be interesting to apply its principles to startups and side hustles that aren't your typical tech fare like Netflix or Intel et al. Also, the formula parts went way over my head. I should read a math book... Read this in preparation for the Acquired.fm book club. I think it will be most useful as a kind of guidebook, a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Whiteboard if you will, for diagnosing different businesses and their strategies. I also think it'll be interesting to apply its principles to startups and side hustles that aren't your typical tech fare like Netflix or Intel et al. Also, the formula parts went way over my head. I should read a math book...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Yechan

    At the end of the day, this book is basically Michael Porter x Bruce Greenwald with fancier language and more up-to-date case studies. Helmer does provide a better framework than these two professors did. However, attempting to create a simple framework, he often over-generalizes and uses quasi-mathematical formulas that seem contrived. Nonetheless, it is a book worth skimming through for those new to the concepts.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yun Teng

    “Simple but not simplistic”. Framework for thinking about what makes a business last and how to get there. Was a relatively quick read with helpful charts but paused at parts to digest and apply learnings. Really liked the framework overall, was a new angle of evaluating businesses that I hadn’t seen before - some questions around generalizability of framework and clear distinction between the 7 powers, but overall still helpful

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lucas Watson

    The book gives an impressive and informative step by step walk through on how a business gains power and retains it. I understand Helmer’s goal in writing this was to denote the process of power in a “simple but not simplistic” way, however his language gets a little complicated in the appendixes of each chapter breaking down the mathematical expressions on how each power is formalized for the average reader thus the 4/5 star.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brad Bevers

    Not what I thought it would be, but a good read for both entrepreneurs and investors. The author does a great job of making a systematic argument for strategy. The charts and and tables that he produces with his theory are easily worth the cost of the book. Despite its short length, this will be more of a reference book for me going forward, especially as a help when evaluating investments at an early stage.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gaurav Juneja

    Good framework for analysing business staretgy Very clear framework for determining the industry economics and competitive positioning of a business. Case studies are empirical evidence of the Powers in action. Specially suitable from looking at a business from the angle of an investor. Believe the equation / math stuff was not really needed / useful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    John

    I liked the book as a great short hand to think through what creates sustained, differentiated profits and at what point in the product life cycle each type of barrier or benefit is usually created. It's given me a few shorthand "rules of thumb" on questionable tactics based on either a product's maturity or a competitor's position. I liked the book as a great short hand to think through what creates sustained, differentiated profits and at what point in the product life cycle each type of barrier or benefit is usually created. It's given me a few shorthand "rules of thumb" on questionable tactics based on either a product's maturity or a competitor's position.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bernard Leong

    The best business book that I have read so far this year. The only problem with Hamilton Helmer is that he did not read Clayton Christensen's 2nd book "The Innovator's Solution" that addresses his understanding of the innovator's dilemma. It's a book that I will re-read constantly similar to Robert Greene's "48 Laws of Power", "33 Strategies of War". The best business book that I have read so far this year. The only problem with Hamilton Helmer is that he did not read Clayton Christensen's 2nd book "The Innovator's Solution" that addresses his understanding of the innovator's dilemma. It's a book that I will re-read constantly similar to Robert Greene's "48 Laws of Power", "33 Strategies of War".

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chanh Nguyen

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. 1. 1st principle thinking will lead to unbox the combination of resolution 2. Don't underestimate the not-to-do list 3. Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. 1. 1st principle thinking will lead to unbox the combination of resolution 2. Don't underestimate the not-to-do list 3. Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance

  28. 5 out of 5

    Govind Chandrasekhar

    I love books that help me solidify frameworks around seemingly amorphous concepts. This book did that for me with "Strategy". It draws on concepts (like network effects and scale economies) that are widely touted, along with some that are less popular (like counter-positioning) and brings them together into a tight framework. Useful for entrepreneurs/executives and for value investors. I love books that help me solidify frameworks around seemingly amorphous concepts. This book did that for me with "Strategy". It draws on concepts (like network effects and scale economies) that are widely touted, along with some that are less popular (like counter-positioning) and brings them together into a tight framework. Useful for entrepreneurs/executives and for value investors.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Israel

    Strategy can be complex and hard to boil down to practical terms. 7 Powers provides a framework that is easy to understand, apply and evaluate. It is especially useful for start-ups or relatively young companies. The short and concise chapters, coupled with tables & graphs make it a quick and memorable read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nick Kurns

    This was a great read. Highly thought-provoking framework that is promised to be "simple but not simplistic" which I found to be true. While the theories are straight-forward some of the example applications are complex. Applies most directly to high-tech and value investing. I found a lot of valuable insights and plan to re-read. This was a great read. Highly thought-provoking framework that is promised to be "simple but not simplistic" which I found to be true. While the theories are straight-forward some of the example applications are complex. Applies most directly to high-tech and value investing. I found a lot of valuable insights and plan to re-read.

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