by Edited by Carol Zarrow

Book Review: Turning Competitor’s Strength to Your Advantage

Oct 15, 20013 mins
IT Leadership

Take That!

Judo Strategy: Turning Your Competitors’ Strength to Your AdvantageBy David B. Yoffie and Mary Kwak

Harvard Business School Press, 2001, $29.95

Wanna throw, pin and stranglehold your competition? The authors of Judo Strategy have some black-belt tips on overtaking your opponent. Yoffie and Kwak liken the competition of business to that of judo and pull off this extended metaphor by providing several real-life examples. Netscape Communications is one. In its heyday, the company depended on speed and flexibility (as judoists do), not size, to compete with Microsoft. But the company lost leverage when it moved so quickly into the Internet space that it lost control (a big judo don’t). Some martial arts advice: Cooperate with competitors (think and Toys “R” Us), and don’t copy your competitor’s every move, just its compelling ones.

-Lauren Capotosto

Role Models

Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at WorkBy Debra E. Meyerson

Harvard Business School Press, 2001, $24.95

Rocking the boat while remaining in your seat isn’t the easiest thing to do, but that is the role of the tempered radical. Meyerson, a professor of organizational behavior, studies the behavior of tempered radicals as they struggle to stay true to themselves and still fit in to modern corporate culture. Looking at individuals from three distinct corporate settings, she finds similarities in their actions and motivations. From the father who questions his company’s rationale for Saturday business meetings, to the gay executive who brings his partner to a company social event, to the woman who tells her mentor that she will not follow his suggestion to change her hairstyle for a big presentation?each act, though seemingly small, is done in a conscious effort to maintain both personal and company values without compromising either.

In analyzing these different real-life scenarios, Meyerson demonstrates the wide range of influences such “everyday leaders” have on their environments, on others and on redefining the status quo while working within the system. She presents her research with a light hand, allowing the information to engage the reader as a comfortable narrative rather than a data sheet. She explains complex ideas and definitions easily and isn’t ashamed to let herself be surprised by the results. Most compelling though are the personal writings of the radicals themselves, which describe thoughts and feelings that might not be so different from your own.

-Amanda S. Fox

CIO Best-Seller List

5. Jack: Straight from the Gut

by Jack Welch

Warner Books, 2001

4. First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Simon & Schuster, 1999

3. Now, Discover Your Strengths

by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

The Free Press, 2001

2. Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen

Hyperion, 2000

1. Who Moved My Cheese?

by Spencer Johnson

The Putnam Publishing Group, 1998

Source: Data from August 2001, compiled by, Seattle

Book Talk

“A company’s ethics or character is defined in the minds of stakeholders not only by how it performs but also by how it lives out the values it holds. Actions become the reputation of a company. And corporate reputation in today’s realm of open communications and instant news has never been more critical.”

-From Stakeholder Power: A Winning Plan for Building Stakeholder Commitment and Driving Corporate Growth, by Steven F. Walker and Jeffrey W. Marr (Perseus Publishing, 2001)