I’ve been fascinated by the topic of differentiating a business or product/service for more than 20 years and I even have a separate blog called Differentiate Your Business.
Who Should Read This Book ?
- Business owners and entrepreneurs.
- Senior executives in big businesses.
- Product managers and marketing managers in big businesses.
- Business consultants, coaches and advisors.
Review Of Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee A Mauborgne
The problem is that differentiating your business can feel a bit of a vague topic. You understand the need to be different but how? In what way? Is being better being different enough but then, how do you prove your claims that you’re better?
This is an excellent book for helping you to think in a more tangible way about differentiation. This book helps you to think through those differences in terms of what customers value when they are buying and consuming a product or service.
It also helps you to think through innovations by looking across different markets like substitute solutions and complementary products that are bought with, before or after the product. This is important because the traditional way to be different is to focus on a specialist niche and when that gets crowded, focus on a sub-specialism. Unfortunately as the niche gets smaller, it gets more and more difficult to build a big business that’s secure against future changes.
The book presents practical tools to help you to think about your business and the opportunities for creating different products but, as always, even good tools can be used badly. Success still depends on insight, inspiration and perspiration.
I also think the red ocean / blue ocean analogy is powerful in that it warns against bring out me-too products. You may not get into the blue ocean but a “purple ocean” or a “blue lake” is often enough to give customers a genuine choice that wins the preference of some buyers.
Some of the case studies have been used elsewhere and if you read a lot of business books, it can get repetitive.
Is The New Version Worth Buying?
The original book came out at the start of 2005 and a new edition was released in 2015. The book hasn’t been extensively re-written.
It has a new introduction where the authors reflect on their experience and feedback on the Blue Ocean ideas and stress the increased importance for challenging existing market boundaries as the world needs more at lower cost. The meat of the new version comes in chapters:
9 – Align Value, Profit and People Propositions
10 – Renew Blue Oceans
11 – Avoid Red Ocean Traps
These replace the previous final chapter 9, Conclusion: the sustainability and renewal of blue ocean strategy.
The new version is better than the original but, if you have the first, you don’t really need this and especially as chapter 10 was disappointing and Chapter 11 has been the subject of an article in the Harvard Business Review which you can find online.