Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W.C. Kim & R. Mauborgne

23 04 2010

blue_ocean Sophisticated models and analytical tools that assist in the creation of a corporate strategy in contested markets have been around for a while.  These models and tools help create what the authors of the book call “red ocean” strategies where the focus is on competing within the current market boundaries by monitoring the competition and seeking either differentiation of products and services or cost leadership.

“Blue oceans” however are new uncontested markets where the competition is weak or none existent and therefore irrelevant.  The reason that only a few companies are able to open up those uncontested markets, according to the authors, is the focus on red ocean strategies in the strategy process.

In this book the authors set forth analytical tools to help companies structure their strategy process in a way that can lead to the opening of highly profitable blue oceans.

I thought that the idea of blue oceans is rather straight forward and common sense stuff.  However it is valuable to see the idea formulated into a thorough process that can be easily emulated during the strategic process within companies.  I agree with the authors that companies must have capabilities in both red and blue oceans in order to reach excellence – otherwise they will never break out of the boundaries set by their perspective industries.

I found the book to be an easy read and a bit thin at times.  The examples in the book were quite interesting but I often get the feeling that you can always find examples to support any theory if you search hard enough.  I’m sure someone could show that Apples success is due to the fact that the employees wear jeans to work or that Microsoft is so successful just because a lot of their employees wear glasses.

But anyway, I thought it was an interesting book and would surely recommend it to anyone interesting in strategy and innovation but for the rest of you – just wait for the movie!

Previous book reviews can be found here.

Winning by Jack Welsh

5 02 2010

To break up the travel blog I have decided to write about the books that I read during the trip.

I just finished listening to Winning by Jack Welsh on my iPod.  The audio book comes on 9 discs and is read by the author, which is always nice.

Winning is about how to win in business and as a CEO of GE or General Electric for twenty years, Jack should know a trick or two.  The book is divided into four sections, each with its own focus.

The first section is called Underneath it all and talks about Jack’s fundamental believes in how to conduct business, manage people and run a business.  He talks about the importance of a strong mission and concrete values in a company, the absolute necessity of XXXX when working with people, the power of differentiation where people are valued for what they contribute and compensated accordingly and the value of each individual receiving voice and dignity

The second is called Your company and talks about people, processes and management within companies.  It goes over leadership, hiring, people management, letting people go, managing change and crisis management.

The third section is called Your competition and goes through the strategic side of companies.  The author goes over his views on how you create strategic advantages, how to device meaningful budgets, how to grow, both organically and through M&A and he also throws in a talk about Six sigma, which he has a special interest in.

The fourth section is about Your career and talks about career management.  It goes through finding the right job, what it takes to get promoted, what to do if you are working for a bad boss and the big question of life/work balance.

Finally there is a section called Tying up loose ends where Jack goes over a few topics that he couldn’t fit into the other sections and he also answers a few personal questions.

You can say that this book is like a mini MBA, first laying the groundwork then something about management, next comes strategy and finally career management.  At least that sounds very familiar to me.

Obviously Jack Welsh is one of the heavyweights in this game with well over forty years of experience so his advice should be sound.  The book was very interesting to me and quite entertaining.  Jack has examples of everything he talks about and that makes the book very practical and at the same time a very easy read.  I mostly listened to it before going to sleep and I have to admit that I fell asleep a few times without turning off the iPod but in other chapters I was so interested that I listened for more than an hour.

I would recommend this book to anyone in business and especially to people working for big companies, where it has the most applicability.  As I said it is an easy read (or listen) and approachable to anyone interested in winning in business.

First leg of the adventure …to the starting point

26 12 2009

We have been staying in Florida for the past couple of months but are now back in Iceland. We really enjoyed the slow pace in Florida and loved the weather up until late December, when it started to cool down a bit. The highlights were:

  • Going to St. Augustine, which is a really beautiful town just north of Orlando. St. Augustine is the oldest town in the US, dating back the 15th century. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to properly explore the town but will be back for sure.
  • Going to the MGM Park (Disney Hollywood Studios) and testing our nerves in The Tower of Terror and The Aerosmith Roller-coaster and calming our selves in The Puppet Show 3D cinema.
  • Seeing the Orlando Magic play the Utah Jazz in the Amway center. The game was not that great, the players seemed to be worrying about what to get their wives and mistresses for Christmas rather then playing basketball, but it was fun to experience the atmosphere and seeing the fans.

We also got to see two of my classmates from the MBA. We met Laura in dueling piano bar in downtown Disney. We had never been to a dueling piano bar before (or even heard of one) but it was great fun and a great concept. The entertainers made fun of us being from Iceland, which never seems to get old. Preston took us on a tour through Cocoa beach. We saw almost the original Ron Jon shop, surfers surfing in the cold see and Elínborg was almost eaten by a pelican.

On the 23rd we flew to Reykjavík for the holidays. Christmas eve is the main day for gathering in Iceland when we have a family dinner and open the presents. We spent the evening at Elínborg’s sister’s house where we ate a wonderful traditional Icelandic Christmas dinner – smoked pork loin, brown sugar potatoes, cream and fruit salad, red cabbage and canned green pies. After wards we opened the presents where my sister in law and her husband took center stage by carefully disguising their presents by wrapping them in multiple layers of paper. On Christmas day we went again to Elínborg’s sister, Ásta, for a family dinner party with her in-laws.

It was kind of strange being back home and a couple of things that I had forgotten about or not thought of for a while. Firstly the darkness was darker and longer than I remembered. It isn’t properly bright until just before lunchtime and sunset is around 15:00. I also felt that people are pretty fashionable and current over here but perhaps most places look fashionable compared to Orlando :)

Now we are in the small air-plain on the way to Egilsstaðir where my mother and her husband live. We will meet up with my brother and his son over there. Egilsstaðir is an hours flight from Reykjavík and is the biggest town in the eastern part of Iceland with almost 3.000 inhabitants – so pretty big in Icelandic terms. The plan is to stay there until the 29th.

I’ll put in some pictures on facebook to match…

The bird that Threatened to eat Elínborg

The bird that threatened to eat Elínborg