Monday, May 25, 2009

Create 'Blue Ocean' or 'Think Twice About Being First' ?!

An interesting irony of practical life, and a possible conflict of strategic approaches - as I read the article on - "Think Twice about being first". It talks about how David Cohen thought ahead of his times about Social communities on Mobile phones. There were venture capitalists who bought his idea, invested in it, it remained alive for 18 months but slowly died and he closed his shop - as it was possibly just a wee bit early.

After 4 years - now that internet on mobile is picking up across developed and developing countries around the globe, promoted by cool gadgets like the iPhone and other smartphones - real time for monetizing the idea seems to have come. Now we have many companies that are following Cohen's concept and finding much better traction ! But unfortunately for Cohen, the founder of this concept, the shop is already closed.

Now, let me contrast this with the much acclaimed strategy by Management guru's from Harvard - The 'Blue Ocean' strategy. In simple words this is a breakthrough strategic approach, and a bestseller, promoting lateral thinking that recommends and suggests how to move away from bloodbath ridden 'Red oceans', to virgin and unchartered 'Blue Oceans'. Oceans being an equivalent of a 'market' or a 'market segment'.

It elaborates how existing markets or market segments get converted to 'Red oceans', where there are multiple competitors - selling same or similar products, with limited or no differentiators, fighting for a slice of the pie getting into a bloodbath - making the 'ocean' red. The strategists recommend how, instead of fighting in the same red ocean by engaging in the ongoing bloodbath, it is much better to find newer and safer 'Blue Oceans' where there is enough pieces in the pie to be grabbed while avoiding bloodshed ! A breakthrough concept indeed and its popularity as a bestseller is a resounding proof.

But contrasting it with Cohen's story above, we definitely see an irony that life's practicality has in store. So even though Cohen found a shimmering 'blue ocean' it resulted more in being a 'marooned island' for him!

The only thing that went wrong in Cohen's case was the timing. So, guess its best to create 'Blue oceans', but venture in it only when the time is ripe. But how to predict that ? Can a management strategy do that ? not sure .. possibly a soothsayer !

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