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Judo Strategy: Turning Your Competitors' Strength to Your Advantage Hardcover – September 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Judo, often translated as "the way of gentleness," is a century-old martial art that employs quickness and agility to help devotees overcome adversaries who seem--at least on the surface--to be more powerful. In Judo Strategy, David B. Yoffie, a professor of International Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Mary Kwak, a Harvard research associate, turn these principles around for a corporate audience, showing how they can also be used to help companies battle bigger and stronger competitors. The metaphor has been used before in business and economic examples, the authors concede, "yet no one, to our knowledge, had tried to use judo as the basis for a systematic way of thinking about strategy." In the pages that follow, they begin by delving into the three primary tenets of the discipline (movement, balance, and leverage), and show specifically how each could be applied in business. They then explore the way three prominent New Economy companies (Palm Computing, RealNetworks, and CNET Networks) have successfully put the strategy into practice. Finally, they offer insight into fending off others who employ the judo strategy. In all, an original and practical management approach. --Howard Rothman

Review

"...Mr. Yoffie and Ms. Kwak use the judo metaphor with perfect sensibility." -- Dallas Morning News

"...when taken to the mat, the book stands the test." -- Entrepreneur Magazine

"Judo Strategy is a lively, detailed analysis of how small companies can compete against larger ones." -- Business Week

"Yoffie and Kwak successfully follow through on a simple approach that delivers useful advice for any manager." -- Computerworld
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578512530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578512539
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The usual garbage. Let's find a firm which has succeeded (for example RealNetworks) despite small size, and force fit it into our facile strategic model. Then let's find a firm which has been creamed (for example Novell) and show (by a selective telling of history) how it failed to do what our stupid (but seductively named) model would have suggested. Repeat three or four times and you have a book.
It is easy to tell stories, but that is all this book does. The predictive power of this claptrap will be zero - and results, specifically future results, are all that counts. Prospective CEOs should look inwards and discover themselves rather than waste their time on this and similar books.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Slivka on August 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Taking examples primarily from the high-technology business world of the past 7 years, Yoffie and Kwak use the sports of Judo and Sumo as metaphors to analyze small, new companies competing against large, entrenched companies. A brief introduction to the sport of Judo is followed by an overview of the Principles of Judo Strategy in business -- Movement, Balance, and Grip - with short examples of companies as varied as Amazon.com, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Dell, eBay, Frontier Airlines, Inktomi, Intuit, Juniper Networks, JVC, Netscape, People Express, Priceline.com, and Transmeta using these strategies (mostly) successfully. CNET Networks, Palm Computing, and Real Networks each get a chapter of their own discussing their use of Judo Strategy in detail.

Of course the upstart company does not always win, so the authors introduce the sport of Sumo and then describe how to apply Sumo Strategy to deal with a Judo strategist, using examples of behavior by AOL, Cisco, Coca Cola, Du Pont, Intel, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments.

I enjoyed the judo and sumo metaphors and especially all the stories about companies that had used these strategies successfully. The only suggestion for improvement I might offer the authors is to include more examples of companies (like Netscape) who violated these strategies and paid the price.

Judo Strategy winds down with a list of five rules for the Judo Strategist, which I will summarize as: Focus, Execute, Be Nimble, Leverage Creatively, and Cut Your Losses Quickly. I was particularly impressed by the passion, energy, intellect and dogged determination required of a small company leader to compete successfully with a large company.
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Format: Hardcover
I like metaphors as much as the next person. They help me see a situation in new and more revealing ways. However, that only occurs when I am familiar with the metaphor. Even after reading this book, I still don't understand enough about judo to grasp many of the points the book is making. Perhaps if it were combined with a video, photographs, or illustrations, it would have worked for me. On the other hand, if you practice judo and work for a dot com company, this is the book for you.
The book's other weakness is that over 70 percent of the examples come from Internet, software, semiconductor, and the computer industries. If you work in another industry, I suspect that you will have a hard time translating the concepts into specific tactics for what your business should do. For example, how does this strategy apply to network marketing, fast food, and motion pictures?
The authors did a lot of research on judo, both in the U.S. and in Japan to write the book. So if you always wanted to learn a little more about that martial art, this book will give you an introduction into the history and philosophy of judo.
The book is organized into three sections. The first explains the principles. The second section provides three examples (Palm-Handspring, RealNetworks, and CNET). The final section talks about how to use size to crush judo strategies (the sumo strategy) and more advanced ideas for judo strategy.
Judo strategy focuses on answering the question of why Palm was able to prosper against Microsoft while Netscape faltered. So if you keep that comparison in mind, you will get a good sense of much of the book's content. I liked the way the authors used "failure" examples to help reinforce their points.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Donna on September 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Okay, I'm biased about this book. After all, our story (the Palm story) is well profiled in it! But I do believe that Yoffie and Kwak have captured and articulated well some of the essential elements of our strategy. Judo Strategy gives solid advice, and is loaded with examples, for those entrepreneurs who dare to compete against industry giants. Refreshingly, it also instructs you on what NOT to do, which is sometimes even more important. I recommend this book for anybody who choses to compete with market leaders.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "kateib" on August 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book uses the metaphor of judo as the basis for a surprisingly nuanced look at how (mostly) startups can compete with bigger companies. While some of the ideas the authors present are familiar (redefining the competitive space), many others are new or deserve to be emphasized in the new economic environment. The same goes for the examples. Many of the usual suspects (Southwest, Dell) appear, but often with a new twist, and the authors also discuss less-known companies like Transmeta.
The book is a little heavy on high-tech/Internet-related examples, but overall, it's a good read, and unlike many others in the category, it's almost entirely jargon-free.
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