Book Review: Blue Ocean Strategy

book review of blue ocean strategy by w chan kim

“To win in the future, companies must stop competing with each other. The only way to beat the competition is to stop TRYING to beat the competition.” 

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim describes its contents as “how to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant”. The entire point of the book is to not only describe why it’s so important to change your mindset from focusing on competitors to focusing on alternatives (aka not converting customers, but finding a way to serve non-customers), but it also shows you how to do it.

Kim argues this shift in thinking is the difference between a slight nudge in sales and an uncontested market space. Using real world examples (think Southwest Airlines, [yellow tail], Cirque du Soleil), he explains how you can take a business that may be one in a million, and transform it into a brand new industry.

And I’ll give it to him. The information in this book is incredibly valuable and an important mind shift. Instead of thinking about how we can slightly lower the cost and slightly raise the value of our products or services, using what Kim calls “value innovation” to provide an undiscovered alternative to the problem is mind-blowing. This is how insane profit is made, how new technology is created, how we were able to get things like airplanes, digital entertainment, cell phones, package delivery, coffee bars, and so many other new multibillion dollar industries.

But because I’m here to be honest with you all, I’m not afraid to say it: This book is hella dense. It was written by a business theorist, and reads like it. Don’t get me wrong, Kim is incredibly smart and every point made in this book needs to be said. But it could also have been said in half of the words and half of the time.

I’ll still recommend it. Value innovation — the idea of being innovative in serving a new customer within your industry — is insanely necessary, and a brilliant way to set your company apart. It completely redefines how you provide value with your business.

Again, think back to the example of Cirque du Soleil. It took the circus, an industry aimed at children, filled with low prices, star acts, and slapstick humor, and upgraded it. It kept the main idea, but combined it with a theatrical angle, focusing on elegance, artistic music and dance, and a sophisticated style. It created an entire new — and completely unique — version of a circus that had never been seen before.

Have you read Blue Ocean Strategy? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments below, or join the party on my Instagram and share there: https://www.instagram.com/katrina.widener/


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