Marks54's Reviews > Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim
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's review
Jan 31, 2012

it was ok
Read in January, 2012

This ise a business school sort of trade book that has been getting a lots of hype. I had to read it for some other purposes so I worked through the book rather than through the numerous HBR articles. The premise of this book is that firms should not bother with messy competition, which will limit their profits and keep them warring with other competitors. Instead, firms should redefine their businesses into new offerings that are appealing to customers but are in such conditions or situations that other firms cannot easily imitate them. This is "blue ocean" strategy - in which you are the only fish in a big pond. The alternative, of course, is "read ocean" strategy - red because there are other fishes in the pond, whose competition will bloody the waters. Get the analogy?? Examples are provided of firms that have done this and suggestions are made about how to copy them. The writing style is crisp.

OK, but the problem is that there is nothing new here.

Coming up with a distinctive position that is very attractive to customers and that will justify high prices and good profits is a very old idea. Who wouldn't want to do that? The problem is that finding such opportunities happens most times through a combination of some skill and more luck. The firms that do this, and the examples in the book, have not escaped competition and there advantage does not last for very long on average.

Telling someone to go out and follow such a strategy is a little bit like the old joke about the cure to poverty being simple - step 1, get yourself a million dollars; Step 2 . . .
(I think Steve Martin originally did this.)

The examples are not really helpful. Given a successful firm, it will not prove hard to find a reason why they succeeded. That is not helpful for someone else moving forward.

Overall, this is a popular treatment of corporate strategy that oversimplifies a lot. Careful readers can find better meals on which to chew.

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