The authors have published many articles over the last decade on Value Innovation. This is their first book. It summarizes their extensive knowledge on out-of-the-box strategic thinking.
What is a BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY? The authors explain it by comparing it to a red ocean strategy (traditional strategic thinking): 1. DO NOT compete in existing market space. INSTEAD you should create uncontested market space. 2. DO NOT beat the competition. INSTEAD you should make the competition irrelevant. 3. DO NOT exploit existing demand. INSTEAD you should create and capture new demand. 4. DO NOT make the value/cost trade-off. INSTEAD you should break the value/cost trade-off. 5. DO NOT align the whole system of a company's activities with its strategic choice of differentiation or low cost. INSTEAD you should align the whole system of a company's activities in pursuit of both differentiation and low cost.
A red ocean strategy is based on traditional strategic thinking - e.g. Harvard's strategy guru Michael Porter.
Some cases: * Airline industry price wars result in bankruptcies and low profit margins. Southwest Airlines creates a new market by offering the speed of air travel with the low cost and flexibility of driving. * Golf equipment industry competes to win a greater share of existing golf customers. Callaway Golf creates "Big Bertha", a golf club with a large head that attracted new customers to golf that had been frustrated by the difficulty of hitting the ball. * The cosmetic industry creates a red ocean with models, expensive advertising, and promises of youth and beauty.Read more ›
This book is mostly "fluff". Its basic argument is that companies who find themselves in hotly contested markets ("red oceans") should look for uncontested markets ("blue oceans"). They should do it in such a way as to ensure revenues (so go for mass), and profit (so watch the cost). Wow. I guess if the authors said: go for high-cost-small-markets, at least it will be original! The problem with this book is that it is a mishmash of old ideas, and its mortal sin is that it is trivial. It looks at successful products and service offerings, and in retrospect identifies the characteristics that made them succeed (at least revenue wise, there is no real financial analysis in this book). Naturally, finding those characteristics is the real issue, and it is the realm of entrepreneurial vision. Beyond some trivial labels placed on common sense planning activities, Blue Ocean does not help one iota in finding uncontested markets with large profit potential. Anyone who seriously tries to apply the ideas in the book will find they are either trivial or fluff.
The lack of originality is everywhere. Let's look closer: The book main point is that companies must do different things than competitors to be in uncontested markets. Fans of Michael Porter will immediately recognize this as the theme of his seminal 1996 article "What is Strategy" (go to [...] to buy this article). Interestingly enough, Kim and Mauborgne published their first work on value innovation in...yes, 1997. Porter identified three bases for successful strategies: need-based, variety-based, and access-based. Unlike the authors of Blue Ocean, he did not pretend to have an a priori formula for finding success. All he did was to show what makes a superior strategy, and why superior strategies are sustainable over a long period of time.Read more ›
This is an especially thought-provoking book which, as have so many others, evolved from an article published in the Harvard Business Review. According to Kim and Mauborgne, "[in italics] Blue ocean strategy [end italics] challenges companies to break out of the red ocean of bloody competition by creating uncontested market space that makes the competition irrelevant...This book not only challenges companies but also shows them how to achieve this. We first introduce a set of analytical tools and frameworks that show you how to systematically act on this challenge, and, second, we elaborate the principles that define and separate blue ocean strategy from competition-based strategic thought." There are six principles which are introduced and then discussed on pages 49, 82, 102, 117, 143, and 172, respectively.
Frankly, I was somewhat skeptical that this book could deliver on the promises made in its subtitle. In fact, the material provided by Kim and Mauborgne is essentially worthless unless and until decision-makers in a given organization accept the challenge, are guided and informed by the six principles, and effectively use the tools within appropriate frameworks. The responsibility is theirs, not Kim and Mauborgne's. To assist their efforts, Kim and Mauborgne focus on several exemplary companies which have dominated (if not rendered irrelevant) their competition by penetrating previously neglected market space. They include the Body Shop, Callaway Golf, Cirque du Soleil, Dell, NetJets, the SONY Walkman, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, the Swatch watch, and Yellow Tail wine.
Of greatest interest to me is Kim and Mauborgne's assertion that the innovations which enabled these companies to succeed with a Blue Ocean strategy did NOT depend upon a new technology.Read more ›