Searching for Blue streams not Blue Oceans
What is the Blue Ocean Idea?
Blue Ocean idea or strategy refers to the creation of a new, uncontested market space that makes competitors irrelevant. Creating something with brand new consumer value. Usually while decreasing costs at the same time. Think of it more like a disruption model than a features or benefits upgrade. The concept introduced by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their best-selling book “Blue Ocean Strategy”.
The Blue Ocean idea helps you to look for alternatives by using a strategy canvas. Allowing you to plot out the key ideas and areas where you can find differentiation. How to increase the value to the customer, without having to increase costs to you. Reaching a key inflection or tipping point and a big upside in value.
The Blue Ocean Strategy offers four questions:
- Which factors the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?
- Which factors should be reduced well below industry standards?
- Which factors should be raised well above industry standards?
- Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
The first two questions force you to find factors that overserve your customers. Forcing them to pay for more than what they need. This is counterintuitive because there’s often a natural tendency to imitate competitors. Eliminating these will simplify your business model and reduce costs.
The second two questions encourage you to lift buyer value and give them more of what they want. New factors offer new experiences and create new or higher demand.
Higher Risk and Reward
The big downside of the Blue Ocean Myth which is often overlooked is risk. Blue Ocean is high risk, high reward. Because you are attempting to create something that hasn’t been done before. You are uncertain it will succeed. Even if you have produced a game-changing business idea. The hard part is getting enough people to adopt it and understand it. If you don’t do this fast enough the idea withers and dies. Everyone quotes Henry Ford’s line “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This line is often used out of context.
Henry Ford created a Blue Ocean, whilst most new business owners aren’t creating this kind of paradigm shift. Remember there are only five Ocean’s in the world. So it’s pretty hard to come up with a new Ocean. Facebook, Uber, AirBnB. These ideas and brands only come along once in a decade.
Many entrepreneurs dream of being the next Mark Zuckerberg. But if they were completely honest with themselves they will admit that their goal is much smaller. They’re not looking to create a multi-billion dollar company. But instead, find a space that allows them to create, be independent and earn a good living. To know they have done good work and have been of service.
A Stream Not An Ocean
Focus on becoming a Blue stream not a Blue Ocean. Without any kind of differentiation your offer will be commoditized and undervalued. Left competing against the competition.
If you are a little risk adverse then a blue stream is far more manageable. Look for a competitive advantage within your industry. If you’re not sure where to start speak to someone who can give you some help in getting your ideas into shape. Don’t try and create a whole new ocean. Instead, narrow your focus to become the go-to person. Someone with specialist knowledge. A stream. Albeit a deep one.
As they saying goes “Still waters run deep” You will still achieve similar results. You’ll stand out, and get noticed if you create a significant point of difference. Focusing on this will help you reduce the competition to irrelevant. It’s unlikely that you will create an ocean. But one day that stream will grow into a river.
If you want advice and help in creating a point of difference to your competitors schedule a no obligation discussion.