Last semester was the first time I read about Blue Ocean Strategy in the Harvard Business Review and it really got me thinking. Was it just applicable to industries and their strategies ? Or could the same be extrapolated to the realms of everyday life?
To those of you, who do not know what Blue Oceans are, here’s a TL;DR : Business universe consists of two distinct kinds of spaces : red and blue oceans. Red Oceans represent all the industries in existence today—the known market space. Companies compete with their rivals to increase market share, in turn cutting profits and resulting into reduced growth rate. Blue Oceans denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, new demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid.
Those interested in reading more about how to create Blue Oceans can have a look at this (HBR Article). I found the concepts of Blue and Red Oceans quite similar to what has been defined in Economics as Competition and Monopoly. Peter Thiel talks about this in his book Zero to One
“Creative Monopoly means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creator. Competition means no profits for anybody, no meaningful differentiation, and a struggle for survival.”
Well, after reading all these things, I became very intrigued. I wanted to know more and see if I could apply some of these concepts to our day-to-day life. I read a lot. I came across several articles with similar footings.
Here’s what I found :
Current scenario consists of two kinds of people, those who are looking for the “safe” routes and those who are looking for unconventional routes. Usually, everyone around us preaches to take the safe and validated routes. This usually means that you compete your way up the safe path. You accelerate on the freeway, trying to beat others till you finally run out of fuel and have to stop, only to question everything that you have done till now.
“Elite students climb confidently until they reach a level of competition sufficiently intense to beat their dreams out of them” – Peter Thiel
Historically, the people who have been the most “successful” have taken the unconventional path, made the competition irrelevant. But does success simply lie in doing what others aren’t ? Not exactly. According to Thiel, the most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.
So, what do we do ?
Oliver Emberton in his blog post titled “How to find your passion” talks about, well (you guessed it right) several ways to find your passion. He talks about how only a handful people even dare to try something new. Well, here’s our answer, we start looking. Looking for things that interest us, things we are amazing at and new things others usually won’t try. “Starting” is the first step and taking the first step itself improves our odds. Don’t look for formulas, start with basic first principles. In the post, Oliver talks about how we can find our passion by creating something. Then the question arises how should we create something?
“Creativity is the process to have original ideas that have value” – Sir Ken Robinson
I believe solving a unique problem is a simple way to create a lot of value and hence be creative. Well, according to all that I have gone through above, one way to have a blue ocean strategy in life is to be an entrepreneur or at least think like one. This way, you solve a unique problem, be creative, find your passion and end up making a space/context of your own. This is my hypothesis and surely you could have other opinions !
Well, this was one of my first in the series of posts on Startups ! Many more to come 🙂