Martin P Wilson


Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Insight, IT

Facilitation and Mentoring for Success.

Blue Ocean Strategy CoverBlue Ocean Strategy shows how business strategy can be developed to make competition irrelevant. Companies can succeed by redefining markets and products.

Blue Ocean Strategy was published in 2005 and has been a major best seller since. It is with good reason as it sets out a way of thinking about market strategies to produce major success through differentiation. It argues that fighting for incremental growth in a company’s share of established markets is not the way to achieve business success, even for the existing players in such markets.

What is Blue Ocean Strategy?

In the first of its three parts, Blue Ocean Strategy explains what the authors mean by blue oceans as opposed to the red oceans of existing competitive markets. There are two chapters:

  • Creating Blue Oceans. It provides examples of businesses that have created and entered new markets through value innovation. It explains the characteristics and principles of a “blue ocean” and sets out the structure of the rest of the book.
  • Analytical Tools and Frameworks. The authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne walk the reader through a set of tools and analysis process to identify and define a blue ocean strategy. The ideas are deceptively simple in concept and easy to understand. In particular the key is the strategy canvas, a simple idea that properly executed will give real insights.

However although the ideas are straightforward the work involved in using them is challenging. That said no one expects innovation to be easy. The authors make a strong case that diligent effort will be worthwhile.

Formulating Blue Ocean Strategy

The second part moves on to practicalities of working therough the process of developing a blue ocean strategy. It is here where the effort need becomes clear but again it is well explained and makes so much sense. The principal steps are:

  • Reconstruct Market Boundaries
  • Focus on the Big Picture, Not the Numbers
  • Reach Beyond Existing Demand
  • Get the Strategic Sequence Right.

The approach will take many managers away from their comfort zone and require them to understand their market in completely new ways. They will not be able to hide behind the easy assumption but the benefits could be substantial.

Executing Blue Ocean Strategy

Finally Blue Ocean Strategy addresses the questions around implementing the newly defined blue ocean strategy. The last three chapters provides a quick overview of the important factors in making the strategy happen:

  • Overcome Key Organzational Hurdles
  • Build Execution into Strategy
  • Conclusion: The Sustainability and Renewal of Blue Ocean Strategy

All business managers with responsibility for strategy, especially any who wish to make the competition irrelevant, should read Blue Ocean Strategy. Traditionally military leaders have always wanted to choose the field of battle to play to their strengths. In Blue Ocean Strategy business leaders are shown how they can do the same be redefining the marketplace to compete on their own terms.

The ideas and approach will work equally well for new or established businesses of any size. Blue Ocean Strategy is an easy read with powerful ideas that belie their apparent simplicity. It will take a rigorous approach to use the ideas but when well executed should deliver considerable rewards.

The Authors

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne are professors of strategy and management at INSEAD and co-directors of INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute in Fontainebleu, France.

Blue Ocean Strategy, How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant (2005, ISBN: 978-1-59139-619-0) by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne is published in hardback by Harvard Business Review Press at $29.95.


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Reorganised to Make Solidus Redundant

A government department undergoing considerable change brought Martin Wilson in as interim head of the service development. He defined the team’s role and established a strong working relationship with another section head were previously there had been considerable tensions. He then worked with that director, a permanent civil servant, to merge their two teams under her management. He made himself redundant because it was the right thing for the client.


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Programme and Project Turnaround

Sometimes a programme or project needs fresh thinking to get it running smoothly; it may be that a health check has exposed issues.

Solidus has considerable experience with putting projects and programmes back on track. Usually it is a case of a project team using Solidus to facilitate an exploration of the challenges. Often the team are too close to the issues, Solidus helps them step back to “see the wood for the trees”. The client can then often resolve matters themselves. In extremis Solidus can take over project leadership until it is running smoothly.

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Quick Thoughts

Has Military Action Ever Dissuaded Tyrants?

Syria - flagIn his speech before the war in Iraq Tony Blair, the UK Prime Minister, argued that not intervening would send a message that tyrants would feel at liberty to act without consequence. By military action in Iraq, he argued, those who would perpetrate atrocities would think twice. There would not seem to be any evidence, before or since, that would back up that contention.

We now have David Cameron, the current Prime Minister, making essentially the same arguments – do politicians ever learn from history?


Government Spending is not Driver of Growth

Parliament Square London IC02001If more public spending is the only way to create growth then surely governments have become too large a part of the economy? Government is about spending and has little to do with creating wealth.

The best government can do is move wealth from individuals and business to those who serve government.


Capped Bonuses, There May be Trouble Ahead

Politicians do not seem to be good at imagining unintended consequences. The cap on bankers’ bonuses, however popular, may be counter-productive in reducing risk.

Dark Stormy Skys and Beauty Often CoexistIf a smaller proportion of a trader’s income is at risk if a trade goes wrong they may pursue high-risk opportunities to get that big win. If it works they guarantee the full bonus and could also use it to negotiate a higher salary (and bonus) for the following year. If it fails the downside is limited by the capped bonus to a smaller part of overall income. At the end of the day traders are competitive and gamblers at heart so will they be more likely to pursue the big win when their own risk is limited?

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