Blue Ocean Strategy gets your business moving in new directions as you shift from competing to creating a new market space.
Blue Ocean Strategy®: It works when you work it but not when you don’t
I was speaking with someone recently who works for a ski resort that had wanted to find a Blue Ocean Strategy several years ago. Skiing and snowboarding were not growing, and mountains—whether they were destinations or weekend retreats—needed to find more nonusers to enjoy the experience.
Unfortunately, their Blue Ocean Strategy had not taken them very far so they abandoned it. While disappointing, this was not unfamiliar.
At SAMC, we often work with companies that need or want to change and that think, perhaps, they too can be a Blue Ocean success story. What we find is that they can, but it requires a combination of a crisis, a willingness to make the unfamiliar familiar and a Blue-Ocean style toolkit that can provide process and comfort to the unknown.
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The fact that this ski area had not succeeded was disheartening. What might they have done differently to find and implement a Blue Ocean Strategy?
Andrea and Andrew (more commonly known as Andi and Andy) Simon are no strangers to change. In fact, as culture change experts, change is right up their alley. Recently featured in WAG Magazine, the Yorktown Heights couple are proof positive that change, though hard (and often painful), can be a good thing for individuals and businesses. (Read the full article here.) Specializing in helping businesses take a fresh look at their organizations, the Simons believe that "the way forward is all around you."
"Our mantra is that we take observations and turn them into innovations,” Andi tells WAG Mag. Earning her Ph.D. in anthropology, then going into academia and banking before founding Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC) over 10 years ago, Andi explains that she and Andy "both enjoy working with people. We also are very curious. At times it is hard to help someone see things in new ways, much less change their behavior. Our approach is designed to help us better understand why people do things, then we find ways to help companies take this knowledge and add value innovatively.”
Turning their clients into explorers
One of the ways the Simons help their clients "see with fresh eyes" is to take them out exploring. Together, they “hang out” and observe customers and non-customers using (or not using) their clients' products or services. They watch what is happening, then find unmet needs to be solved.
Recently, we gave a workshop to several dozen CEOs who had less than stellar years. They had their strategic plans in place and tactical actions laid out. Now they were ready to see how their strategies were working for them — or not.
While they could each explain why results were not as strong as expected, what began to dawn on them during our workshop was that part of the problem was their strategy. In each case, it needed to be reviewed and reworked in order for their businesses to get going again.
Need business growth?
You might need a Blue Ocean Strategy.
At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we specialize in Blue Ocean Strategy® thinking and in working with companies to redesign their business strategies. Blue Ocean Strategies help companies find unmet needs and add value in innovative ways so that they are not just "another business solution" but the "only solution.” (At least for awhile until others catch up.)
As trained Blue Ocean practitioners with over 350 workshops and dozens of client engagements under our belts, we help companies see how a new approach — Blue Ocean style — can lead them to find new untapped markets awaiting their solutions. Exploiting these untapped markets then leads to business growth, the ultimate goal.
- Blue Ocean Strategy®: A Brief Introduction
- Time to Make the Competition Irrelevant, Blue Ocean Style
- To Capture Men, Healthcare Systems Need a Blue Ocean Strategy®
So, what is Blue Ocean Strategy?
Blue Ocean Strategy is a theory, method and toolkit developed by W. Chan Kim and Reneé Mauborgne and outlined in their breakthrough book, Blue Ocean Strategy. First published in 2005 then republished in 2015 with new information, it has become the core approach we use with our clients, many of whom are literally "on the brink" before getting unstuck and moving ahead in new directions. (You can read more in my book, "On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights.")
At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we have recently been working with clients who are struggling with an abundance of competition in their "red oceans." As you may know, we are Blue Ocean Strategy® professionals and corporate anthropologists. And, we are big believers that people cannot see what is often before their eyes.
Red oceans are a metaphor for a highly competitive market space where businesses follow a traditional methodology promoted for years by Michael Porter and others. The thinking goes like this: carve out your market, differentiate your product and service offerings, and find your market space at the right price point to generate a good margin. The only problem is that today, there is too much supply and competition and too little demand for products, services and solutions.
In a business slump? Maybe you need to go exploring!
The best way to do that is to "hang out" and watch your customers—and non-customers—get their jobs done.
At SAMC, that's what we specialize in: helping clients realize the great potential of finding their "blue oceans" where they make the competition irrelevant, capture and create new demand, go after unmet needs, and value-innovate (not value-incrementalize) their offerings. As John Seely Brown, visiting scholar at USC and the independent co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, famously said, "The way forward is all around you." You just have to see it.
Today, I want to show you how to go visually exploring. This is a key part of how you can begin to see how your clients are really struggling to solve their problems, often with your own products. And what does that struggle represent? Opportunity!
Ok, so maybe you have realized that your current business strategy has left you struggling to find growth markets. Your game plan has been to shrink costs, find cheaper manufacturers and outsource back office duties. Margins are hanging in there but revenue growth is still slow, maybe stalled. Are you "on the brink?"
In my book, "On The Brink: A Fresh Lens To Take Your Business To New Heights," I describe seven companies that were literally "on the brink." While they were not failing, neither were they soaring. For each of them, it was time to step out of their stagnant environment and find new markets—to literally see the new opportunities that were all around them.
They needed to find a "Blue Ocean Strategy®." Once they did, they were able to discover new markets full of customers who had big unmet needs and where they could add value in innovative ways.
I have written a series of three blogs about the steps we follow with clients to help them accomplish these two vital strategies: open new market space and find unmet needs. Now it is time for Step 4. You can refer back to the others or keep moving forward. And the way forward is really "all around you."
Steps 1, 2 and 3 set the stage. Now it is time to turn those observations into innovations: Step 4
Categories: Blue Ocean Strategy
We recently completed our 300th workshop on “Change Matters: How to Find New Market Space.” These workshops are essentially about how to craft the right growth strategy for your organization at a particular time in its development. One of the major themes we discuss is Blue Ocean Strategy® (BOS), a revolutionary approach to business growth that offers a fresh way to open new market space.
We are Blue Ocean Strategists and have found that while other strategies can be very useful ways to tackle stable markets, BOS is invaluable for the rapidly changing business environments facing companies today. By using the proven methods of Blue Ocean Strategy, we help companies achieve three major strategic goals:
- Open new market space—to capture nonusers and unmet needs
- Become a value innovator—no longer just an incrementalist
- Make the competition irrelevant—rather than trying to out-do it
In previous blogs I described the first two steps in crafting your own Blue Ocean Strategy:
- How To Find Your Blue Ocean Strategy®: Step 1 where I discuss visual awakening and how you need to step back and see your current strategy as it is today.
- How To Find Your Blue Ocean Strategy®: Step 2 where I explain where and how to go visually exploring to better see, feel and think about potential new market space that might be all around you.
Next step: Be the solution your customers are looking for
Today I want to discuss Step 3, namely, how to put your nonusers and their unmet needs together into a potentially powerful new market strategy—Blue Ocean-style.
The goal: For you to learn how to open a new market space, adapt to changing times and add value in innovative ways. For example, the situation that is causing you to tell customers "We don't do that" may be exactly what you need to start doing! When you push into new markets, often those new opportunities are right there waiting for you.
Categories: Blue Ocean Strategy
Need to change? Maybe you need a Blue Ocean Strategy.
In my previous blog in this series, "How To Find Your Blue Ocean Strategy®: Step 1," I explained how Blue Ocean Strategy teaches business leaders to go where the profits and growth are and the competition isn’t—to literally make the competition irrelevant. Using this revolutionary way of approaching business growth, companies can successfully adapt to changing times by reconstructing the market space, creating demand (not just responding to it), and devising value innovation (not just adding value in an existing industry solution).
Now you're ready for the next step: how to go visual exploring.
What is visual exploring and how will it benefit me?
Visual exploration is at the core of Blue Ocean thinking (and right up my alley as a corporate anthropologist). What we “see and feel” helps us better “think” about the problems to be solved and the ways to understand what we are really doing. Words are fine but if you see something or hear somebody talking about a problem they're having, your brain is then freed up to say, “Aha, this might be an opportunity for us!”
There are many ways to go exploring. But let me begin with a strong caveat: One of the key rules of Blue Ocean Strategic thinking is “never outsource your eyes.” What I mean by that is, don't let someone else do your discovery work for you. Get out of your office and go searching for new ideas yourself.
So, how do you do it? Here are 5 guidelines to help you structure your efforts:
Categories: Blue Ocean Strategy
The phenomenally successful book, "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, powerfully teaches business leaders of all stripes how to "go where the profits and growth are and the competition isn’t."
As a trained practitioner in Blue Ocean Strategy® who has been working with clients for years on how to find their "Blue Ocean," I have increasingly become aware that the one chapter really missing from the book is a “How to” chapter. This, then, is a blog-size version of what I feel that chapter should be, with the goal of helping you find your own “Blue Ocean.”
First things first: what the heck is a Blue Ocean Strategy?
Last month my wife, Andrea (Andi) Simon, was a keynote speaker at the Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) annual meeting. The Alliance is made up of 15 independent Michigan colleges, and if put together as a singular entity, these colleges would be the third largest post-secondary institution in Michigan, just behind the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Consequently, they have a significant impact on the students they serve!
Taking place over several days, the conference had representatives from approximately 100 corporations in attendance, including the large automotive companies. Andi was the keynote speaker at one of the dinner meetings, and her lecture included an in-depth introduction to Blue Ocean Strategy,® which is the focal point of her newly released book, “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights.”
Two days later, Andi led a MCA roundtable on Blue Ocean Strategy, examining the need to make colleges more relevant in today’s economy. With that in mind, I would like to talk about this topic in this blog.