The book review for this week is Blue Ocean Shift Beyond Competing by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.
Blue Ocean Shift is the second book in the “Blue Ocean journey” for Kim and Mauborgne. Here they expand on the concepts defined and outlined in Blue Ocean Strategy published in 2005. It is easy to see that the authors have been busy with research, consulting and projects since then! This book has updated tools, concepts and compelling case studies. Entire countries have got on board and kicked off Blue Ocean initiatives (Malaysia’s National Blue Ocean Shift Summit)!
My takeaway from this book is the Blue Ocean shift diagram (below) and the understanding behind it. Each business leader must continuously strategize on how to move into or stay in a Blue Ocean market. This is a daunting task and takes significant effort, creative thought, innovation, wisdom, and action. However, the alternative, the Red Ocean of cut throat competition, MUST be avoided to avoid the slip into becoming a Red Ocean commodity!
How many times have employees approached you asking for a raise because the competitor across the street is paying $1 more per hour?
Living in the “oil and gas” marketplace we have seen this trend come and go many times over the years. Currently we are in a down market and most people are just grateful to be employed but you can bet when the price of oil comes back we will be back into the pay escalation trend very quickly!
Many times as business leaders we get caught up in a moment of panic when our prize employees are threatening to leave us and walk across the street to a competitor for a few bucks more per hour. I think we have all been guilty of capitulating and matching or marginally beating the competitive offer. We breathe a big sigh of relief and the temporarily happy employee gets back to work . . . until the next offer hits their desk! So, what should we do when this happens?
“Sometimes you have to destroy your business in order to save it.” James Surowiecki
What sort of insane person would suggest that you should kill your company? This seems like the most stupid idea ever but . . . I believe the concept of killing your company has a lot of merit.
Of course I am not talking about literally killing your business or organization. Rather, I am suggesting that you and your leadership team brainstorm to define all the ways you could kill your business or all of the events that could potentially happen that would kill your business. You then take these company killing ideas and events and, rather than implementing them, you build strategies to fortify your business against them.
“I’m amused when other agencies try to hire my people away. They’d have to ‘hire’ the whole environment. For a flower to blossom, you need the right soil as well as the right seed” William Bernback
William Bernback really hit the nail on the head with this quote. If we, as leaders, have created the proper environment within our organizations, we should not be concerned about losing our best employees to the competition because no one will want to leave. We will have a culture that attracts and retains employees and few recruitment agencies will stand a chance in luring our staff away .
The million dollar question is, what does this “miracle” environment or culture look like? What sort of “soil” do we need to have to promote the growth of our employees and our business?
“The competitor to be feared is the one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” Henry Ford
I find it very interesting that about 100 years ago Henry Ford, the inventor of the mass production factory, understood that focusing on your competition added no value to your business. In fact, he knew that focusing on your competition takes your focus off your own business. Focusing on the competition causes you to chase others rather than leading your organization towards achieving your goals, mission and vision.
So if Mr. Ford identified the secret about what to focus on as a business leader 100 years ago, why are so many business leaders today so concerned about what their competition is doing?