Book Review: Designing Blue Ocean Strategies

I decided to read Kim and Mauborgne's book "Blue Ocean Strategy" despite already having read their good and interesting Harvard Business Review article in 2002. It was worth the read because (to my surprise) the book offered more than simply adding case studies to the existing analytical framework (as is often the case for HBR articles that are extended to books).

The book is particularly interesting if we look at it from a business design perspective. Kim & Mauborgne stress that companies have to aim at moving from competing in red oceans - i.e. competing over market shares in existing markets - towards creating blue oceans of new markets - i.e. creating & selling new and yet uncontested value to customers. This immediately made me think of an observation and statement Richard J. Boland's made in his book "Managing as Designing" (there I go citing Boland again...). He believes executives need to complement their current decision making process which focuses on chosing among existing solutions (e.g. Business Process Reengineering BPR) with a design process of creating addtional new solutions of which to chose from.

What is useful about Kim & Mauborgne's book is that they outline a number of simple and applicable analytical tools and strategy development processes to create blue oceans, while they explain why the traditional strategy process gets stuck in focusing on red oceas. Interestingly, their description of this transition reminds me stronlgy of a more design-like approach:

Here we develop an alternative approach to the existing strategic planning process that is based not on preparing a document but on drawing a strategy canvas (see figure below).

Like in the design approach the authors recognize the value of visualization and the integration of people and customers in the strategy development process. For example, Kim & Mauborgne describe the use of so-called strategy fairs where executives, partners and customers are all involved in developing a company's strategy by drawing and choosing strategy canvases. I find this a very attractive approach and will definetly integrate it into my consulting work - probably by adding a business model layer.