Blue Ocean or Tail Wind? Choose your analogy.

You have been there, we all have. You are amazed at how good you feel. You are out on a long ride and your bike all of a sudden feels lighter. You feel faster. You look down at your speedometer and you realize that you are going 26-28 mph without much effort. All your training has paid off.

It is about that time that you turn to go back home and you realize, as you start riding in the opposite direction, that you  had a significant tail wind. You are now struggling to keep your pace at 20 mph. So you limp home understanding that there is still more work to do.

The other day on my way to an engagement with a client in California I was listening to the audio book Blue Ocean Strategies. This book discusses how businesses are eliminating competition by creating whole new industries where there is a high demand and no competition. In this environment they own 100% of the market share, and the demand for your products or services creates the tailwind that pushes the performance. When you can find this type of market you have 1-5 years to solidify your market share before competition starts.

Let’s take a look then at how you can find the Tailwind or Blue Ocean for your organization. I would like to recommend the following steps to begin:

  1. Get real about your businesses ability to perform in today’s market.
  2. Look for un-met needs.
  3. Make sure your strategy can drive your economic engine.
  4. Have the courage to do it.

Get Real about your businesses ability to perform in today’s market. Although this sounds easy it is not. We tend to have blinders on when it comes to our own business. We rationalize the poor performance. We create sacred cows. We fail to think about how the market might be changing. It is important to challenge your current way of thinking. Jack Welch calls it “candor”, Jim Collins calls it “facing the brutal reality”, but what ever you call it, it is important to take a no excuses look at your business performance.

You will never be able to create new markets for your company if you cannot take an honest look at where you are and what is holding up progress. find out what is not currently working for you and get rid of it. I was once told the mission of GE was to be #1 or #2 in every market they were in. If they did not realistically have  shot at either of those spots they got out of that market.

Look for un-met needs: Is there an unmet need in your industry? If you were to ask the people closest to your clients or customers what they are hearing, you may be surprised at what they say. You can probably imagine there would be talk about what you are doing wrong, but you might also hear some insights into what they wish you or your competition could supply to fulfill unmet needs.

Once we know what the unmet needs are we can look at how to fulfill them. This may mean a slight change to business as usual. However, if we look deep enough we might be able to find that blue ocean that will lead us into uncharted waters with no competition.

Make sure your strategy can drive your economic engine. Once you have found that wide open market with no competition, You need to make sure there is enough of a market to drive your economic engine. If you cannot make enough of a profit or have enough turn of your product, you will need to look for a new strategy that can. However, if you do find that blue ocean,


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