Thursday, July 14, 2011

Collaborative Advantage - Keep the Blue Oceans Blue

In the book Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne, the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy was introduced to help companies to move away from fiercely contended "red oceans", by creating "blue oceans" of uncontested market place. Through actionable plans suggested in the book, the companies will be guided to create innovative products and provide new values to the customers. This will certainly help to mitigate the misery that everyone in the industries has gone through due to ever-intense competitions.

However, I cannot help but to ask if there would create a situation, in which everyone compete with each other to create "blue oceans". In addition, will the rival companies try to move in swiftly to catch up with the leaders while new "blue oceans" are found? Hence, the newly found "blue oceans" would quickly turn "red". If these happened, intense competitions will be extended into new playing fields.

The good news of the approach is the ever expansion of innovations and market frontiers. However, the winners will reap the benefits of the markets while the losers will be left further behind. We still need to worry about whether we are able to discover new "blue oceans" fast enough before the "red oceans" catch up with us. Worst still, if our competitors find the "blue oceans" before us. Hence, fears and worries are still with us no matter how good we have utilize the Blue Ocean Strategy.

I think the important question to ask is: why do "blue oceans" have to turn "red"? Why can't "blue oceans" stay "blue"? I believe we can find the answer if we just switch off our competitive mind-set for a while, and think about collaboration. That was my suggestion in series of articles I have written about "collaborative advantage".

In collaborative mode, we work with our "enemies", we help each other to grow instead of killing one another, and we do not sacrifice losers, but will help them to help us. Only when everyone has a chance to share the "blue oceans" regardless of whoever discover them, we will be able to keep the "blue oceans" "blue", and we can have long term peace.

Blue Ocean Strategy has provided us with a tool to expand our innovative horizons. It is up to us to decide whether the "blue oceans" created to stay "blue" or turn "red". I suggest that we share new innovations through collaborative spirits to keep the oceans "blue". In this new century, we need to fight for our mutual survival, but not against each other!

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