'Blue Ocean Shift': Empowering leaders in business


In business, it’s often said that there’s one particular phrase more dangerous than any other.

For an organisation, it can at best lead to stagnation or, worse, being left behind entirely. The phrase? “This is the way we’ve always done things.”

There’s a degree of sympathy to be had with business leaders who talk a good game of change and innovation but oftentimes find reality trumping the dream. Stakeholders and the bottom line are always the main concern, and so steering away from the “tried and tested” can give rise to uncomfortable levels of risk.

To get ahead and stay ahead, conventional wisdom decrees that businesses must find ways to keep growing, lest they lose their competitive edge and become irrelevant. But what if the key to getting ahead doesn’t lie in being the best competitor?

In 2005, INSEAD graduate business school professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne published Blue Ocean Strategy – a book that sold over 3.5 million copies and was published in 44 languages.

So significant was the book’s impact, it became the buzzword for business leaders looking to find innovative new ways to grow.

Blue Ocean Shift Will Empower Business PeopleTheir latest book, Blue Ocean Shift, outlines the “how” to their previous book’s “what”.

Blue Ocean Strategy outlines the differences between the ferocious “red oceans” of crowded market competition, and the “blue oceans” of market creation that render competition redundant.

In their new indispensable offering to business leaders, Chan Kim and Mauborgne provide a five-step process that enables organisations – from cash-strapped start-ups to Fortune 500 companies – to make the transition from the suffocating pit of competition to the vast expanse of market creation.

As part of the process, there are fascinating insights into human psychology, which help leaders to build people’s confidence and set about getting the right teams in place for the eventual transition.

The book also enables organisations to truly assess their current state and where they should go to find sustainable growth opportunities.

In a world of change and volatility, Blue Ocean Shift serves as an anchoring tool that provides leaders with the confidence and drive they need to change towards a direction that sees customers seeking them out rather than having to chase after customers.

If the book is to be summed up in a sentence, it can be described as the ultimate resource for critical thinking in business that empowers leaders to smash through conventional barriers to growth.

For anyone who’s ever sat through a seminar where business execs discuss the pressing need for change and new opportunities, only to know full well that little will change within their organisation or industry, Blue Ocean Shift offers a refreshing change of pace in showing leaders exactly how to walk their talk.

The book is an invaluable gift to business leaders across the board, offering a real masterclass in how to understand the dynamics of transformation and apply the strategies that can bring about real change.

To move beyond the shark-infested “red oceans” to the blue expanse free from competition, Chan Kim and Mauborgne stress that business leaders need to identify and rethink the main assumptions of their industry.

To show that their strategies work well, the book is packed with real life cases of successful blue ocean shifts.

Some powerful examples include the creation of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq – an unlikely project transformed into a global success story – and the French electric appliance firm Groupe SEB, which invented a game-changing French-fry maker that requires no frying.

The book also gives an honourable mention to the Malaysian Government. In 2011, it addressed the problem of prison costs and rehabilitation issues under the conventional model by creating the Community Rehabilitation Programme (CRP).

The enterprise helped to alleviate a host of problems by creating CRP centres for petty criminals on military bases’ idle land.

As a result of this initiative, since 2011 re-offending rates for petty criminals has dropped by approximately 90%.

Compared to a conventional prison, CRP centres are 85% cheaper to build and 58% cheaper to run and, in its first decade, the programme is expected to save the Malaysian economy US$1bil (RM4.2bil) thanks to the many benefits of this particular blue ocean shift.

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing

Authors: W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

Publisher: Hachette Books, business trends

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