Blue Ocean Shift Book Summary By W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

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Blue Ocean Shift (2017) offers an insightful and practical guide on navigating the crowded business waters of today.

Written by two seasoned industry experts, it provides readers with real-world strategies and tools to help them move past competition and uncover whole new worlds of opportunity.

The book is divided into several sections, each based on years of the authors’ experiential knowledge.

They explain in great detail why one should attempt to make competition irrelevant by innovating their approach, as well as provide step-by-step instructions on how to go about doing that.

This is a must-have for any individual or business looking to cut through the clutter in order to be successful.

Blue Ocean Shift Book

Book Name: Blue Ocean Shift (Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth)

Author(s): W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 24 Minutes

Categories: Entrepreneurship

Author Bio


Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne are a powerhouse duo credited with writing the international bestseller Blue Ocean Strategy.

They are professors of strategy at INSEAD and co-directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute, and have received numerous awards for their work.

Thinkers50 even listed them as one of the top three management gurus in the world!

It's no wonder why they're such pioneers when it comes to business strategies; they've dedicated their lives to understanding what works and what doesn't.

Discover How To Escape Fierce Competition And Make A Blue Ocean Shift

Blue Ocean Shift

The authors of Blue Ocean Shift suggest that organizations can escape from the overcrowded and competitive “red ocean” and venture out into a new, uncharted “blue ocean,” full of opportunities for growth.

To make this shift, they provide a step-by-step framework and practical tools to help navigate this new market.

For example, they explain how the french fry makers revolutionized their industry with a blue ocean shift by changing the very way fries were packaged; how the charity industry was transformed by inventing the red clown nose; and finally, how citizenM successfully shifted away from traditional luxury hotels by eliminating the use of front desks.

In short, with Blue Ocean Shift, you can gain access to an unexplored world — what some call ‘the vast blue oceans’ — of untapped markets with untold potentials!

Make The Blue Ocean Shift And Take Your Business To A Whole New Level

Are you looking to move your business beyond the realm of competition? If your answer is yes, then a blue ocean shift might be the perfect tool for you.

With this strategy, you’ll be able to explore markets that are untouched by competitors, allowing you to create an entirely new space in which to thrive.

Take Groupe SEB as an example – they were able to come out with the ActiFry deep fryer in 2006, a product that revolutionized french fries because it required only a tablespoon of oil instead of liters and completely changed the industry.

This sounds like a miracle but there’s actually a quite simple process involved – firstly, you must have a new blue ocean perspective; second, have people who will help motivate and drive the change; and thirdly, access market-creating tools that enable you to make your new idea into reality.

With these concepts in mind, blue ocean shifting can help secure success for your business by taking it off the competitive grid and planting it firmly in markets completely free from external influence.

Move away from standard strategies and take advantage of this revolutionary way of thinking!

Three Strategies For Creating New Markets: Disruptive Innovation, Non-Disruptive Creation, And Redefining Existing Problems

Non-Disruptive Creation

It’s important to understand the strategies which can be used to create a new market.

There are three key approaches that business leaders and entrepreneurs need to be aware of.

The first is disruptive innovation, which occurs when a revolutionary idea arises that overcomes an existing technology and disrupts the industry.

An example here would be the emergence of digital photography, which completely changed the landscape for traditional photographic film producers like Kodak.

A second approach is non-disruptive creation, in which a new market is created without any change to existing ones.

A great example of this is Pfizer’s development of Viagra – an entirely new solution to a previously unaddressed problem without disrupting current markets.

Finally, there’s a middle way between these two strategies.

This comes into play when an existing issue is redefined – think Groupe SEB’s ActiFry fryer!

While this didn’t eliminate existing markets, it fundamentally reshaped them.

To sum up: there are specific ways in which businesses can create brand-new markets through either disruption or redefinition.

How Comic Relief’S Blue Ocean Strategy Provides An Example For Creating New Markets

The Blue Ocean Shift book advocates for a fresh perspective when it comes to strategizing.

A blue ocean strategist can be identified by four distinct traits.

For starters, the blue ocean strategist seeks to make the industry conditions malleable and will endeavour to create something new rather than competing against others.

This is what Comic Relief did in the charity industry, creating their own Red Nose Day instead of pitching donors as other charities do.

Second, blue ocean strategists don’t aim to beat competitors but to make them obsolete altogether.

For instance, Comic Relief accepted donations from anyone and made their competition irrelevant in comparison.

How To Make Humanness Real In Your Blue Ocean Shift: Atomization, First-Hand Discovery And Clear Expectations

Clear Expectations

The Blue Ocean Shift process cannot be accomplished without including the human element.

After all, the approach requires rethinking an entire industry and tapping into creative solutions that may not have been thought of before.

That’s why it’s important to recognize the fears, insecurities, and desire for dignity and purpose that people bring to the table.

To make this humanness a reality in your blue ocean strategy, three elements are key: atomization, first-hand discovery, and a fair process.

Atomization breaks down the daunting task into smaller pieces to keep it from feeling overwhelming.

First-hand discovery encourages everyone on the team to think independently and feel their own need for change.

And a fair process includes engagement, explanation, and clear expectations from all stakeholders involved with the decision-making process.

Ultimately, the Blue Ocean Shift process cannot be completed without acknowledging its human element – recognizing that fear exists and providing an environment of collaboration where trust is essential.

The Pioneer-Migrator-Settler Map: A Practical Tool To Help Companies Assess Their Products And Prep For A Successful Journey Into The Blue Ocean

If you want to embark on a successful blue ocean journey, it’s important to assess your current situation first.

The best way to do this is with the pioneer-migrator-settler map.

This is an easy chart where you can divide your products or services into three categories – pioneers, settlers and migrators.

Pioneers are products that offer a clear innovative value and something special that your customers will love; Settlers are products which are based on what the competition has to offer, not really offering anything new; and Migrants are in between – offering better than what’s offered by other competitors but nothing overly innovative.

To draw up your Pioneer-Migrator-Settler map, simply divide a square horizontally into three sections representing settlers (bottom), migrants (middle) and pioneers (top).

Draw different size circles in each section to represent how much revenue each product brings – the bigger the circle, the greater the revenue.

The Strategy Canvas: An Important Tool For Crafting A Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Shift Book provides an invaluable tool for plotting your company’s competitive value against that of a rival in order to get a clearer picture of where you stand in the industry.

With this tool, called the Strategy Canvas, you can map out the competitive factors within an industry and how much value customers get from each.

To use this tool, identify between five and 12 key factors of competition in your industry first, then choose a rival company to compare yourself against – whether it’s the leader or your closest competitor.

Next, rate both your and their offerings on each factor on a scale of one to five – low to high respectively.

Once done, you’ll have created a graph with the horizontal axis showing all competitive factors and the vertical axis representing how much value buyers get from each factor.

By plotting your own curve against that of your rival, you can quickly assess where you stand in terms of competition and potential blue ocean opportunities for shifting away from industry conventions.

Uncovering Hidden Pain Points To Attract Potential Customers

Potential Customers

Using the buyer utility map created by Blue Ocean Shift, you can chart customer experience to make your product more accessible.

This map consists of 6 rows and 6 columns that detail the different stages of the buyer experience cycle.

From purchase to disposal, each row highlights six levers: customer productivity, simplicity, convenience, risk reduction, fun and image and environmental friendliness.

By asking questions in each row pertaining to how those levers are being hampered by pain points in your industry, you will get a clear picture of how customers are interacting with your product at every stage.

This knowledge helps uncover hidden pain points so you can eliminate them, making your product more attractive to potential buyers who may not have been interested before.

For example, by understanding that people find it difficult and frustrating to choose between too many options when considering a bottle of wine; Comic Relief was able to create Red Nose Day offering small donations to attract children and low-income families who wouldn’t normally participate in charitable drives.

Charting the customer experience with the buyer utility map offered by Blue Ocean Shift is an invaluable tool that can help make your product more appealing – without adding fake facts!

The Blue Ocean Toolkit: Unlocking Six Paths To Uncover Undiscovered Markets

Blue Ocean Shift encourages the use of a simple framework to uncover new, vast opportunities for businesses.

This framework is known as the Six Paths and it helps you to look beyond your own industry and see what others are doing differently.

It starts by examining alternative industries – this would mean looking into why one industry might be chosen over another, like why is it people hire plumbers instead of searching in a hardware store? After that, you need to identify strategic groups within your industry.

These groups provide different levels of value, such as high-value versus low-cost products.

Next up is exploring who makes the actual purchases and how they influence others’ buying decisions – here you’d be taking into consideration those who pay and their proximity to those being influenced.

Then, consider the larger context of how the product will be used by delving into what comes before, during and after using the product.

The fifth path focuses on rethinking the balance of functionality and emotion – this could mean redefining existing orientations and creating possibilities for an emotional connection with customers too.Finally, take account of trends that are impacting your industry and shape them accordingly so that you get ahead of any changes coming your way.

In summary then, Blue Ocean Shift provides a powerful toolkit to help organisations find gaps in their current market by utilising their 6 Paths Framework – making uncovering wonderful opportunities much simpler than ever before!

The Four Actions Framework: Making Blue Ocean Shifts A Reality

If you want to make a successful shift in your industry, challenging assumptions with a series of key questions is the way to go.

This is the process that’s encapsulated by the six paths framework and four actions framework.

The four actions framework challenges prevailing assumptions in your industry by asking four questions: What factors have been taken for granted that can be eliminated? What factors should be reduced below industry standards? What should be raised above industry standards? And what features have never been offered before and should be created?

Taking these questions into account can help you develop tangible blue ocean alternatives.

For instance, citizenM hotels redefined luxury hospitality by eliminating front desk and concierge services, reducing room sizes and raising the luxury of sleeping settings.

They also employed ambassadors who would help assist visitors’ needs without having to wait at a front desk line.

The Fifth Step To Creating A New Blue Ocean: Hold An Event To Test And Select Your Best Option

Blue Ocean

If you’re looking to make a successful blue ocean shift, you’re going to need some help.

Narrowing down the best option requires bringing in your top people from various departments and getting them to agree on one strategy.

That’s why it’s important to bring in the head of your primary unit plus her top team, marketing, manufacturing, HR, finance, IT and logistics personnel, customers or partners and suppliers if desired.

All these perspectives will be necessary in making sure that everyone understands the rationale behind the options.

At the event itself, start off with an overview of your industry and all its current red oceans – this will provide a foundation for understanding why a blue ocean shift is necessary.

Then move onto making presentations on selecting from amongst the different options you have developed.

Begin each with a tagline, followed by leading everyone through step two (strategy canvas) and step four (four actions framework).

Take time for explanation and contemplation – hang posters explaining all available options for attendees to consider.

Finally take votes (via post-it notes stuck on the poster most compelling) and collect feedback about why those particular options were chosen.

Now you are armed with your selected blue ocean option – it’s time to make your move!

Dedicate yourself to implementing this new concept and soon enough you’ll be swimming in clear blue waters!

Wrap Up

The key message of Blue Ocean Shift can be summed up simply: Companies don’t have to stay in the competitive “red oceans” if they don’t want to.

By following a systematic process, businesses can break free and open up brand-new opportunities in more untapped “blue oceans.”

The best way to do this is by creating a powerful blue ocean team.

This needs to have sufficient creativitiy, experience and expertise, but still remain small enough that it can be flexible and fast moving.

So a team size of 10-15 people from all relevant departments – HR, IT, marketing, finance, manufacturing etc – should allow you to make your blue ocean shift happen successfully.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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