Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

In BLUE OCEAN SHIFT, Professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne continue their analysis, following up on the well-received BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY.  In this sequel, the professors dive into more detail, and provide a detailed “Blue Ocean” plan.  Do not expect to just breeze right through this book; it will take time to grasp the details. 

The theme of this book:

“Study those who had applied our theory and methodology to their organizations to create and capture blue oceans.”

The authors remind the reader that a Blue Ocean shift “occurs only when unprecedented buyer value is created by opening up a value-cost frontier that didn’t exist before.”  A firm must target one of these areas:

  1. Offer a breakthrough solution for an industry’s existing problem, OR
  2. Identify and solve a brand-new problem or seize a brand-new opportunity, OR
  3. Redefine an industry’s existing problem and solve it.

Three Things Leading to a Shift

To do a Blue Ocean Shift, one needs to figure out exactly what factors could allow your firm to transition into the Blue Ocean. Similarly, one must identify the hurdles that might prevent it from happening.  The authors boil it down to 3 things:

  1. Adopting a blue ocean perspective;
  2. Having practical tools for market creation;
  3. Use a “humanness” approach to inspires and build confidence

One of the earliest steps is to evaluate your firm's current products or services, and figure out which ones are innovators, and which ones are not.  The authors recommend making a chart showing each product as a "Pioneer," "Settler," or somewhere in between. A Pioneer is an innovator, whereas a Settler is a product living off its former glory days.

Not Necessarily First in Technology

Success in a Blue Ocean market doesn't necessarily mean your firm was the first in technology. Oftentimes, the authors suggest, those firms get the bragging rights of being the first in technology, but still do poorly in the marketplace.  (Think TIVO, for example.) The point is, being the technical creator is not good enough.

I found the most helpful part of the book right at the end—in Chapter 12, “Selecting Your Blue Ocean Move.” The authors take you through the details of setting up your own "Blue Ocean Fair." The idea is to build up “ambassadors” who can explain why a shift is necessary, and drive the process forward. Here’s how the fair works:

  1. Start with an overview of your industry’s red ocean reality and the need to make a blue ocean shift
  2. Have the team present their blue ocean strategic options
  3. Ask the attendees to visit all the stations and then cast their votes
  4. Probe for maximum feedback and learning
  5. Decide which blue ocean option to pursue

A Blue Ocean Fair for Toilet Paper

The book details how Kimberly-Clark Brazil (KCB) ran their own fair. They wanted to do a Blue Ocean Shift for TOILET PAPER!  The authors admit,  

“What can you possibly do with a product as simple and basic as toilet paper? KCB was about to find out.”

So all in all, I found BLUE OCEAN SHIFT to be a useful book--but also a complicated book. It would have been helpful to have “bullet point” summaries for each chapter. Without a concise summary, it took me longer to understand the details. I think it would be helpful to actually read about the Fair first, so that you can see where the plan is going.

Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher.

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing - Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth byW. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

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