Sunday, November 8, 2009

Judo Strategy:Book Review

Judo strategy is written by David b. yoffie and Mary kwak and is published by Harvard business school press. The book basically talks of the resemblance between judo and the strategies that have been taken by various newly emerging business to fight against established players. In judo weight and physical strength doesn’t matter what does matter is your strategy and with the help of right strategy and right move you can use the strength of your opponents for your own benefit, the same principles are valid in the ambit of business where no matter how strong your competitor might be but with the application right moves and strategies you can bring him to ground.

The book is diveded into three sections with the first two sections having three subsections each and the last one having two. The first section deals with the fundamentals of judo strategy in business, like in real judo where you have three steps that is movement,balance and leverage ,in real world business also players adopting judo strategy against their strong competitors need to make use of these three steps. In the movement step one needs to maintain a low profile so that while his business is under growing stage he can avoid attacks from well established players, at the same stage of time he needs to define competitive space where the company can apply its core competencies and once the competitive arena is decided the company should escalate fast so that the firm could emancipate its strength and can enjoy some substantial advantage over its established rivals.After making proper movement the company needs to balance itself from the opponent’s attack,this balance cannot be achieved by fighting neck to neck with your competitor but by griping your competition with the help of various means such as striking deal with your own competitor or striking deal with your competitor's partner or by designing your strategy in such a way so that you can use the moves of your competitor for your own advantage as in case of fight between Wal-Mart and Kmart back in 1980's ,at that time the average price of retail item was slightly lower in Wal-Mart in comparison to Kmart, but Kmart was investing a lot in advertisement ,Wal-Mart was reluctant in spending so much into advertisement ,what it deed was that it posted Kmart's weekly circular in front of it's stores and challenged that walmart will match or beat any of the deal thus converting the strong advertising campaign by kmart in it's own favor .After movement and balance the third part of the game calls for leverage ,this part is the most important part in designing your attack here you use the strength of well established player and use it against them only,the best example can be the case of dell and compaq,back in 80's compaq was a well established brand in the pc segment and it's selling network relied on a very strong network of retailers and wholesellers ,it was difficult for dell a newcomer in that time to afford such a strong network,dell adopted a fairly different plan,it took orders directly from there customers,gave them customized solution for there need and finally delivered it directly to the customers there by slashing any need for middle man ,this new model of distribution called as "DIRECT FROM DELL" was very successful and it helped dell to increase its market share drastically, Compaq on the other hand was very worried on account of its loosing market share,it was having two option either to continue with its earlier model of selling or to switch over to the dell's model of direct delivery, but it went went for the third one where it adopted both the strategies which simply was a dud,not only did it lose it's good relationship with the vast network of retailers and wholesalers which had so far helped Compaq to be one of the dominant player in pc segment but also it was not in a position to adopt the direct delivery system properly which was somehow an alien idea for the company.Compaq's market share kept on decreasing year by year and finally the company was taken over HP.The penultimate part of the books gives us the example of various successful individuals such as Jeff Hawkins,Donna Dubinsky(Palm ),Rob Glaser(Real Player) ,Halsey Minor and Shelby Bonnie(Cnet Networks)  who have used judo strategy very perfectly against there competitors.The last part gives some strategy to beat a judo player by adopting the game of sumo where the big players needs to adopt strategies such as intimidation, use of strength ,propagandas and outspending your weaker competitors on account of your deep pockets and rich assets, additionally it also contains a user manual for using "JUDO STRATEGY".

The best part of this book is that it contains a lot of examples from the business world,as a result of which it becomes easy for a reader to grasp the main ideas of the book properly, the book has given various examples of the firms such as FREESERVE,PALM,REAL,EBAY,DELL,SEGA,FRONTIER AIRLINES,INTUIT, ETC who successfully adopted judo strategy against there well established competitors and received favorable result ,at the same time the book also gives illustrative examples of firms like ETOYS,NETSCAPE, ETC which couldnot use judo strategy in a right way and had to suffer.Though book is very comprehensive and illustrative fraught with a large no. of examples one drawback which the book is having is that most of the examples and cases of which the book talks about have been taken from the IT and related industry, had there been more examples from other sectors such as FMCG,RETAIL,AUTOMOBILES, ETC the book could havce been better.As a whole this book is well written and is worth reading for MBA students, entrepreneurs, managers as well as general read


  1. Excellent article pari.... " just wht da doctor oderded...". Like judo, when an enterprise adopts judo marketing strategy, one thing it keeps in its mind is that, he is a player in the existing market. The 3 key features of this strategy sre :-

    a) puppy dog ploy
    b) Define the compititive space
    c) Follow-trough fast

    a) grip your oppenent
    b) avoid Tit-for-tat(as mentioned Wall-Mart & Kmart analogy)
    c) push when pulled
    d) practice uKemi ( falling safely & with minimum loss of advantage in order to return more effectively to the fight)

    a) leverage your opponent's assets
    b) leverage your opponent's partner
    c) leverage your oppenents's compititor

  2. I think's it's awesome that Halsey Minor has used the strategies outlined in the book. He's the owner of a highly successful news outlet, CNET, go I guess the strategies that he learned worked really well. I am working on building a website of my own, so I will definitely have to get to reading!