I am using Chan Kim’s book, Blue Ocean Strategy (2005), as the framework for a surviving to thriving guide. Kim’s blue oceans’ metaphor defines a blue ocean as a less contested market space. In this space, the opposition is not as relevant, and you thrive (Kim, 2005). I believe one can apply blue ocean strategies at an individual level as well as a business one.
Kim explains that we primarily operate in highly contested Red Oceans, whereas in Blue Oceans, there is less competitor activity. He uses four quadrants to categorise what action to take to exit Red Oceans and enter Blue Oceans. I will give some of my examples of each.
The first category to get out of red oceans – eliminate
What must you eliminate to get out of red oceans? I suggest starting with energy leaks from poor wellness. Then eliminate poor customer experiences. Finally, try treating customers like VIP’s – which means treat them as they would like to be treated as opposed to the old mantra – treat them like you would like to be treated. This requires you to eliminate bureaucracy by reducing red tape and providing more red carpet.
The second category to get out of red oceans – reduce
I firstly suggest reducing judging, complaining, blaming, and gossiping. For the second point, I want to draw on the potential hazards of social media acting as an energy leak. I gleaned this from the movie “The Social Dilemma”. If we become aware of this concern associated with social media, we can save a lot of energy floundering around in red oceans and spend more accessing blue oceans. In the movie, Tristian Harris explains how our energy could get drained by the attention model used by social media sites. They use these to keep us on their site and in so doing improve their advertising revues.
Note, there is nothing intrinsically sinister with their approach; the problem lies in our lack of awareness of their ever refining, personalised algorithm to keep us mesmerised and spend more time on their social media site.
The next point to become aware of is that social media inevitably blurs facts because it has little if no editorial integrity nor sanction like an official newspaper or news channel has – of course, I acknowledge there is bias in everything we are presented in all domains, including official news outlets. They are, however, subject to rules. Therefore, know that when you are on social media sites, an algorithm is monitoring what you are interested in to feed to you reports or videos that follow a similar theme. So most things you view on, say, YouTube are suggested by the algorithm and not something you looked for in the first instance.
Once you are caught up in the flow of the algorithm – or dare I say caught up by our addictive nature, you probably experience increased anxiety, hostility, and nostalgia. You may even lose trust in science, as you reinforce your confirmation bias with “evidence” from half-truths fed to you by an algorithm that has got to know more about you than your closest friends and family know.
After a while, it is equally likely you feel enlightened and encouraged by this evidence whilst you will start considering others “sheeples” who are under the influence of an enemy like a world government, Bill Gates or any others uncovered by your social media journey.
Finally and hopefully, you become aware that it is you who may have been mind-captured and are increasingly suspending your critical thinking whilst wandering into a polarised cognitive bubble of intolerance – even willing to alienate friends, as the boundaries of your issues harden.
The third category to get to blue oceans – raise
What must you raise to enter blue oceans? My first suggestion is to improve teamwork, partnerships, and communication. Secondly, express more thankfulness, inspiration, empathy, and mental toughness. Finally, develop new knowledge and skills, e.g. including multiple perspectives and critical thinking. Innovating and improvising to do more things faster and better; becoming techno-savvy and managing the mess – not limited to your own.
The fourth category to get to blue oceans – create
To enter blue oceans, I suggest you create a strategy for surviving to thrive, e.g. one that aligns with national priorities, research, stakeholders’ problems and brings your values to life. In addition, it bonds staff into an organisational culture through its shared mission and values. It embraces multiple bottom lines, helps you flow around VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) and adapt faster than the opposition to a changing context. In this way, we adjust to the reality of ever-increasing instability.
It has a plan B to give you global sustainability and risk plans that cater to black swan shock events. In addition, you identify how to create stakeholder commitment to the strategic plan, accountability for results and ethical behaviour. Finally, it maintains current value (what we should do) plus imagines, then researches new ideas from which you invent new values (what we could do) with differentiators that yield unique competitive advantages.
Motivational Speaker, Dr Steve Harris, has been studying performance for thirty years of which fifteen have been devoted to performance improvement through an integrated mind and body approach. Steve has the business knowledge and skills to view a wide range of problems with a perspective broader than the established patterns that entrench thinking and close minds.