Strategy, innovation and market making

Blue Ocean Strategy

I was never a fan of “Blue Ocean Strategy”. In my view, it was a case of ‘Old wine in new sacks” (Dutch saying). It sounds too much as the new product/new market combination from the Ansoff matrix.

Blue Ocean Shift

Was going to give it another shot with “Blue Ocean Shift”. How to shift from competing in crowded existing markets to creating new market space. Describes as the systematic process to move your organisation from cutthroat markets with bloody competition—what we think of as red oceans full of sharks—to wide-open blue oceans, or new markets devoid of competition, in a way that brings your people along. Moving your business from market competing to market creating.


Here are the lessons. Some are open doors.

  • Do not benchmark. Freek Vermeulen, author of “Breaking bad habits” would agree.
  • Expand your horizons.
  • Have a humanistic approach. Capture the hearts and minds and focus on emotional engagement
  • Provide people with a clear account of the thinking that underlies the process and be crystal clear about the expectations, the role and the responsibilities.
  • Focus on value innovation, not on technology innovation.
  • Do not take existing industry conditions as givens.
  • Aim to make the competition irrelevant.
  • Focus on creating and capturing new demand, not fighting over existing customers. Create new demand by looking at non-customers. Noncustomers, not customers, provide the greatest insight into what your industry is doing to limit demand and how you can overcome this.
  • Simultaneously pursue differentiation and low cost.
  • Deconstruct any challenge into its basic components, or atoms, and focus on solving them one at a time.
  • Map the competing factors.
  • Take a DIY anthropologic approach and learn by doing direct experience and observation. Seeing is believing. You should never, ever outsource your eyes or ears. Read “The moment of clarity
  • Assess your product/service offerings according to how much innovative value they offer buyers.
  • Use a Buyer Utility Map, which is mapping six distinct stages, running more or less sequentially from purchase to delivery, use, supplements (that is, other products or services needed to make your work), maintenance, and disposal. Each stage encompasses a variety of specific experiences.
  • Identify the three to five trends that are seen as having a decisive impact on your industry or target industry.
  • Use simplicity, productivity, convenience, risk reduction, fun and image, environment, eliminate, reduce, raise, and create as development lines of your offering.
  • Organise a blue ocean fair.


The book is full of great examples, from the Red Nose fundraising, ActiFry to CitizenM hotels. CitizenM is the same example Freek Vermeulen uses in “Breaking bad habits”. Which you should read. Or read “The startup way” by Eric Ries. The book also does give some very good models and a full roadmap to implement and execute on an innovation pathway.

Other books

However, you might as well read


It does not really matter. What matters is that you make innovation a fundamental part of your business model. It does not matter what model you pick.  Movement is more important than strategy. Market making will follow. At a minimum it will make you more change resistant.

sensemaking cover

Why reinvent the wheel and why not learn from the best business thinkers? And why not use that as a platform to make better business decisions? Alone or as a team.

Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

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Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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