The Blue Ocean Strategy: Step Out from the Fishbowl & Swim Up to Success

The Blue Ocean Strategy by  W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne 

Did you know that in marketing world “angels” and “devils” also exist? Did it ever cross your mind to use tools like “fishbowl management” or “atomization” in a field like this? (Quite intriguing to train the fish from the bowl to make good profits, isn’t it? It’s not precisely like this but it’s kind of funny, anyway.)

What attracted me to this book in the first place was the title. A nice metaphor, Blue Oceans (and Red Oceans). Blue Oceans means prosper, peaceful, safe blue water. Red Oceans smells like a lot of bloody struggles, and shark filled water. Imminent dangers that really threaten your survival. Two contrary elements which express good and bad.


Companies must break out of the accepted boundaries that define how they compete.

The authors – W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne  –  show us how to get rid of competition by simply cutting its importance and its negative influence. In this context, the Blue Ocean strategy provides business owners a lot of good insights. Helps them take their business to another level, far away from dangerous competition.  Leads them to achieve high impact on the market with low cost and maximum profit.

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But, let’s see this book from a different perspective. The analogy I propose is market – dance steps. If businesses were a dance – this book may probably be choreography with mixed steps, in 3 acts:

  1. The slow dancing lead: Blue Ocean strategy

When your business is performing on a stage, which will be your major concern?


“The only way to beat the competition is stop trying to beat the competition”

This may be your first surprise. When I first read this nugget I was intrigued. All my life I connected those 2 concepts: business and competition in such a natural manner and now…

Why is competition not important? Why shouldn’t we focus our energies on it?

Reading this book I discovered that the answer was much simple that I thought:

In the blue oceans’ world the competition is just irrelevant because the rules of the market game are waiting to be set.

blue ocean

But this is a partial W. Chan Kim truth. Because by reading more you’ll discover so much more intriguing and interesting info about it.

How the four actions framework works? (Reduce, Eliminate, Create, Raise)

How will the profit and growth consequences help you to create blue oceans?

What a value innovation means in the blue oceans context?

And how a strategy canvas looks like?

I leave you to discover all this and so much more in the first part of W. Chan Kim’s book.

  1. The ballroom dance rhythm: Formulating the Blue Ocean Strategy

Prerequisite: “companies must break out of the accepted boundaries that define how they compete” and to have a keen insight into how to reconstruct market realities to open up blue oceans. How they could do that? W. Chan Kim provides 6 paths in order to accomplished this:

  • Look across alternative industries

'Alternatives are broader than substitutes' @BlueOceanStrtgy Click To Tweet

  • Look across strategic groups within industries

Motivation is the engine. And that’s because working out collectively instead of alone is definitely more dynamic, interesting, engaging, motivating and inspiring.

  • Look across the chain of buyers

“Challenging an industry’s conventional wisdom about which buyer group to target can lead to the discovery of blue ocean”

  • Look across complementary product and service offerings

Because untapped value is often hidden in complementary product and service. You have to see beyond your own expectations and focus more on defining the total solution buyers seek when they choose a product or service.

  • Look across functional or emotional appeal to buyers

“Some industries compete principally on price and function largely on calculations of utility. […]Over time, functionally oriented industries become more functionally oriented; emotionally oriented industries become more emotionally oriented.”

  • Look across time

Looking across time means perspective. To anticipate the now-tomorrow report—from the value a market delivers today to the value it might deliver tomorrow. Only that way you will be able to actively shape your business future.

  1. The contemporary dance closing: Executing the Blue Ocean Strategy

This book proposes a strategy that is based on two main characteristics: maximizing the opportunities and minimizing the risk. Sounds good, right?

And if we have a strategy, we also have some principles. The authors share with us 8 of these principles. Each and every principle is associated with the respective risk involved, as follows:

  1. Reconstruct market boundaries by minimizing the search risk.
  2. Focus on the big picture, not on numbers, and consequently lower the planning risk.
  3. Reach beyond existing demand, decreasing the scale risk.
  4. Get the strategic sequence right and minimize the business model risk.
  5. Overcome key organizational hurdles and decrease the organizational risk.
  6. Build execution into the strategy, making the management risk as small as it can be.
  7. Align the value, profit and people proposition and minimize the sustainability risk.
  8. Renew Blue Ocean as much is possible and remove any renewal risk.

All these principles can serve all sorts of companies, no matter the industry they are in. Also, they serve as essential pointers about their future strategy.

Basically, traditional strategies build their profits on differentiation on the market and high cost.

Blue Ocean strategy comes with a new way of thinking. Differentiate from another perspective: value innovation and simultaneously promote a strategic cost, in order to gain new demand.

In fact, the main idea of this strategy is based on the reach beyond the existing demand and the equilibrium between the value proposition, profit and people proposition. Because Blue Ocean isan “and-and”, not an either-or, strategy.”

blue ocean

The idea of seeking a fresh market space in new, unexplored territories is heavily promoted. The only catch is to look at it from different angles and with creative eyes.

This edition of the book helps us understand the necessity of embracing the principles of Blue Ocean strategy in modern times. The book also gives us the exact necessary steps in order to do that while providing us with a set of efficient tools and frameworks to execute the plan in order to build a successful business.

By all means, Blue Ocean strategy represents a mix of elements, all used at the same time and all equally important. It’s not only about highly attention to the details and focus on the main objectives. It’s also about quick, proper action, using a new and creative thinking. Practically, as the authors emphasize, It’s all about doing something funny for money to change the world.”

At the end of the book, the specialists explain us the common traps of using Blue Ocean strategy. Those obstacles are usually built on poor understandings of this strategy, old mental structures, lack of focus or strategic errors.

They also give us some tips. All modern companies should balance the information between Red Ocean strategies (commonly known and applicable today) and Blue Ocean strategy. That’s because blue and red oceans have always coexisted and they will continue to do that in a future, as well.

I bet you’ve asked yourself at least once: what stands behind big companies like Apple, Home Depot or Circus du Soleil? If I’m right, you should definitely read this book. You’ll find it all there, explained in an easy and understandable way. You can scroll through the 30 main nuggets from the book and get the free eBook with 100 of the best nuggets from “Blue Ocean strategy” by subscribing to our mailing list below.

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