Sailing into Blue Ocean

By now, many of us are familiar with the analogy of “blue ocean”. Blue ocean thinking represents a quantum leap to a new territory, a transformation from what’s conventional to what’s groundbreaking. In their 2005 book Blue Ocean Strategy, authors Kim and Mauborgne recommend that an organization should “create new demand in an uncontested market space”. This is what Apple did with iTunes and the iPod. What Henry Ford did with the Model T.

Kim and Mauborgne lay out the key steps in developing a blue ocean strategy:

1. Reconstructing market boundaries

2. Focusing on the big picture

3. Reaching beyond existing demand

4. Getting the strategic sequence right

This is excellent advice, and I would add one element to this:  Seeing the world anew. An essential ingredient of success if you’re any kind of innovator or strategist. And something that will make steps 1 through 3 in the aforementioned approach far more manageable.

It’s taken from Einstein’s famous quote, “You cannot solve a problem using the same consciousness that went into creating it. You must see the world anew.” Change the frame on the big picture. Look at the so-called problem from multiple perspectives. Go read a book about a field totally outside of yours. Take some time to travel to different parts of the world and see how other cultures approach things. Strike up conversations with strangers and ask lots of questions. Take some LSD, as Steve Jobs famously recommended to Bill Gates, and alter your mind a bit. Or, better yet, hire our company Scientific Intelligence to do a mapping on your issue so you can discover the memes at your disposal.

Whatever method you use, whatever it takes, seeing the world anew is the prerequisite to finding a blue ocean, game-changing strategy.

And why do we call conventional territory “red ocean”? Because it’s filled with the blood of our people and our competitors. That metaphor should be sufficient motivation to get out of red ocean, and into the blue.