Creating strategy is an inherently creative process. Because of the multitude of factors involved, including the thoughts and beliefs of the strategists themselves, the formation of strategy is unique. However, the overwhelming belief in almost all strategy is concerned with beating the competition, something that Kim and Mauborgne (2004) point out. Strategy is not about beating the competion - it's about figuring out the best way to obtain your objectives given your current resources. Blue ocean strategy makes that clear: instead of focusing on competition, it focuses on creating value. Rather than trying to match what other firms are doing, Kim & Mauborgne suggest that it is better to redefine what competition means. By doing this you create an unparalleled advantage: you seize the initiative. In this history of strategic thought, from military strategy to chess, every strategist has realized the importance of initiative. It forces your competition to react to you rather than be able to execute their own strategies. In my Mikes Bikes team I am the Director of R&D. What this essentially means is that I am responsible for my teams long-term strategy: my recommendations shape the strategic direction of the entire firm. To me, this is the most important aspect of Mikes Bikes, and why I decided to make R&D Director my first choice for the team role.
Thus, this weeks readings are especially relevant to me. How do I create blue ocean for my firm? The concept of strategic canvases, I believe, are important in this regard: it clarifies exactly what the firm should be doing in order to maximise the value it creates for its customers. Of course there are no real customers in Mikes BIkes. But by analysing the reports within the game itself, a picture of sound strategy does emerge. This means that I have to not only understand my own area of product development, but also have an excellent understanding of every other department in Mikes Bikes and how they inter-relate to one another. For example, this week our team were discussing preliminary strategy and the various members of my group had their own ideas (I won't go into exactly what they were, I still want to win) as to what we should be doing. What I want to do now is to seize the initiative. I want the other firms to react to my decisions and forget their own strategy. There is a simple way to do this: 1, have the highest SHV in the first rollover, or the second highest, doesnt matter; 2, this will force the less competitive firms to re-evaluate their own strategy and maybe even derail a few firms due to infighting (there are 6 firms in each world so the chances are atleast one firm isnt going to work well); 3. These less competitive firms will from then on be reacting to the top firms in the world and more than likely forget about what they need to do in order to seize the initiative, they will be too busy playing catch up. This leaves in reality only one firm as actual competition, and depending on what their business strategy is, they can be easy pickings or roughly even going forward.
Of course, if you do not clinch the top 2 placings in your world, that doesn't mean you cannot come back. The key will be realizing exactly what blue ocean strategy means to your particular firm, and each firm's blue ocean strategy will be different based on the environmental context.
Kim, W. C. & Mauborgne, R. (2002). Charting your company¿s future. Harvard Business Review, 80(6), 76--83
Kim, W. C. & Mauborgne, R. (2004). Blue ocean strategy. Harvard Business Review, 82(10), 75--84