management: make the best of Porter's 5 forces of competitivity for yourself

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Michael Porter is a professor in business strategy and administration at the Harvard Business school. He is famous for his studies on the way a company can gain competitive advantage by mastering the forces that structure its competitive environment much better that its rivals. He published an updated paper in 2008 in the Harvard Business Review of his theory "How competitive forces shape strategy" dating from 1979.

companies' performance: Porter's 5 forces

At the time I already had greatly appreciated his synthesis of the factors which influence the performance of a company according to five strengths
  1. threat of new entrants
  2. bargaining power of suppliers
  3. threat of substitute products or services
  4. bargaining power of customers (buyers)
  5. intensity of competitive rivalry

these five forces can be used in a much more personal way !

Indeed, they are powerful when applied to yourself in your job, in your contribution to the company:

  • what is the power of my customers, my company, my manager?
  • what is the bargaining power of my suppliers on the project? What's the power of my team's members?
  • could a newcomer take my job?
  • are there other solutions to my contribution for the company? Could my function be outsourced for example or subcontracted? Could a new "business model" render my services obsolete?
  • within the company or the organization, which other project manager could easily, even advantageously, replace me?


PS: you can also read this blog post in French here.

Michel Operto

I've been leading IT projects for more than 20 years at telecom and computer manufacturers: Thomson Sintra, Digital Equipment, NCR, Nortel Networks, Orange Business. My passion is Project Management and leadership and I run a blog on the PM best practices at