Sometimes I just want to question contemporary thinking on business innovation and this is one of those times. My question is why strive for an exception, a Blue Ocean requiring restructuring and risk, when you can just compete within a given reality (current structure and risk)?
For those who are not familiar with a Blue Ocean Strategy it is when you look for a business opportunity where you are creating new demand, decreased costs, and greater value. This is in contrast to a Red Ocean, where you are doing business in a highly competitive environment and your industry is being commoditized.
I think one of the central questions you should ask yourself before you strive to create the mythical Blue Ocean is why? Isn’t a Blue Ocean more like a home run? A grandiose and generally unrealistic idea centered on being a business superstar?
In general, life does not create many superstars and even superstars come and go over time. Why not you just strive to do your best and make adjustments (ex. contract and grow as needed)? I would argue the majority of businesses are better-off focusing on maximizing their given reality and doing the best they can to differentiate themselves from the competition (i.e. act as structuralists).
A Blue Ocean strategy should be used as a way to think outside the box and come-up with new ideas, but may never lead to creating new demand, decreased costs, and greater value. And why does a Blue Ocean Strategy have to accomplish all of these elements? If you use the strategy to push the company to continually improve, then you will likely remain successful and competitive even though you still have to deal with the business cycles of your current environment.
The Blue Ocean is just another tool that may lead you down an imaginary or impossible path (ex. snipe hunt), and, at worst, a waste of resources that increases risk of business failure.
I wrote this post after reading Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.