Redbean - Last month I wrote that thinking is the new strategy so this month I have a strategy that supports that concept.
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Reneé Mauborgne initially looks like one of those Business School essays that got turned into a book. ( Read an overview of the book here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy )
The book and strategy, in a nutshell, suggest you go where the nobody has gone before to create either new markets or new value in existing markets. This is a great but hardly new idea.
What is new is the development of tools such as the ’strategy canvas’ that attempts to formalise the one off creative sparks that companies sometimes have into a repeatable means of developing new strategy. This canvas supports the use of analysis as a launch pad for creativity as opposed to just beating the competition.
Strategy that is competition-centric is based upon analysis and is incremental in nature. Blue Ocean strategy attempts to be creative and exponential in nature. The example given in the book is that of Yellowtail Wines. Where the wine industry was competing strategically within the boundaries of the current market, Yellow tail came along and created its own expanded market, simply by tweaking the existing ‘norms’ of the market.
What interests me is the process for coming up with that creative strategy. ie the thinking. The tools in the book are a useful start to getting an organisation thinking outside its current ocean.
Unfortunately the book falls down on implementation with the usual ideas to drive change via dynamic leadership, overcome power politics etc. to create exemplars and then successfully execute plans. Nothing new here.
The thing is that we know far less about successful implementation (the important bit) than we know about coming up with new strategies (the relatively easy bit). More often than not the only way to truly innovate in an existing organisation is to create a new organisation that doesn’t have the inherited shortcomings of its parent.
Combining Blue Ocean Strategy with the guts to back your creativity in a new venture is a far more intriguing and possibly successful strategy. Or if Robert Frost was writing about strategy he might have called it - “the road less travelled strategy”.