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Book Review: Blue Ocean Strategy – How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant
By W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

A new, digitally remastered version of Jaws was released on Blu-Ray this year. In the 1970s, this movie brought a new meaning to suspense. More importantly, it dramatically changed our view of the ocean. In Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant, authors Kim and Mauborgne use the shark-infested ocean analogy to share how competition works in the business world. We begin with a clear, peaceful blue ocean of new demand. It is easy to navigate and becomes a serene experience because no one else is there. But then, the ominous music and reality of competition comes into the picture as a red ocean appears. The competitors become sharks and try to kill each other in this new market for every customer available. Competitors bloody themselves to the death to fight for 1% more of market share.

Authors Kim and Maugborgne challenge organizations to stop fighting in the red ocean of competition and look for ways to inhabit blue oceans of new market demand. It seems really simple in concept, but how does a company become innovative and find new space overnight? Blue Ocean Strategy involves several steps in a larger strategic planning process. It’s not just coming up with a new idea and making it happen. Truly innovative and successful organizations follow a disciplined process with laser focus and total group buy-in. They also have access to strong marketing and financial analysis experts.

If you are sitting in a non-profit role right now, then you may be thinking that Blue Ocean Strategy only applies to corporations and smalls businesses. But, does it really? Let’s think about it together. First, utilizing a different strategic planning process in your organization may encourage your group to think outside the box of your normal delivery channels of service. Second, this concept provides a strong exercise for a board and staff to use in reinventing a non-profit sector. Lastly, understanding how your organization is different from other similar service providers helps you to define a clear statement of mission. A concise mission is your ticket into more strategic conversations about your non-profit.

Blue Ocean Strategy provides a framework for strategic planning that is simple and easily adaptable to any organization. It also provides research about 150 strategic moves in more than 30 industries over a 100-year timespan. From Cirque de Soleil to Apple to NetJets, you will find more than enough examples of groups who were willing to take the risk and jump into a blue ocean together. Think about your next blue ocean today.