John Lynch

Get out of your Red ocean and into a Blue one (Book Review)

I finished Blue Ocean Strategy a few months ago and only now getting around to writing a review, however in that time I must have recommended it to 10 people in the ad-tech industry. Why? Read on

blue ocean strategy The main reason I recommended the book is I though its definitions of existing industries as many red oceans. Red because they are oceans of blood, a result of savage competition over time that eats the profit margins of all players and race them all to the bottom. Sounds like the deep red media industry right now and just behind it the younger adtech industry.

The book highlights that these red oceans are in a downward death spiral and unless they find a way to break out into a Blue Ocean you will continue to spiral down. The Blue Ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored and is therefore untainted by competition, it’s a pristine market there for the taking. In Blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid and the rules of the game are waiting to be set.

So how do I get to this blue sea anology I hear you ask? The book reads like an instruction manual and is one of the reasons I liked it. It is divided into steps: The first part presents key concepts including Value Innovation, and key analytical tools such as the strategy canvas and the four actions framework and the eliminate-reduce-raise-create grid.

The second step describes the four principles of blue ocean strategy formulation and how to recognise it when you arrive.

  1.     Create uncontested market space by reconstructing market boundaries
  2.     Focus on the big picture
  3.     Reach beyond existing demand and unlock noncustomers
  4.     Getting the strategic sequence right

Simple, so why isn’t everyone doing this? Well if it was simple all oceans would be red…duh. But the promise of the book is that if you follow the manual you should be able to launch a commercially-viable blue ocean idea by aligning ‘unprecedented utility of an offering’ with strategic pricing and target costing and by overcoming adoption hurdles.

The book mocks at the phenomena of conventional choice between product/service differentiation and lower cost, but rather suggests that differentiation, lower costs and most importantly charging more are all achievable simultaneously. This is where my time in the media servicing industry came to mind and its default obsession with lowering costs to win clients and as a result loading accounts with graduates and interns and creating an industry that cant afford experience.

So I do believe the concepts behind Blue Ocean Strategy are sound, some would even argue are not new. However what the book can do is to give you a sense of what could be beyond endlessly pushing for cost reduction to offer a cheaper service or product. The Ocean analogy gives you a powerful and memorable metaphor, which can be enough to stimulate people into at least looking at and trying a new way, something that the media industry definitely needs.

Vdeo description by the co-author Renée Mauborgne


Blue Ocean strategy by W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne


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John Lynch Digital Ministry John Lynch
Company: Digital Ministry
Position: Editor
Involved in the digital media and Marketing industry for many years, through working at the Economist Group (uk), Universal McCanns, Zivo, emitch, OneDigital, IBM (client side), Agency.com & now TBWA NY Now in Bath, UK working as a consultant

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