Fares Boulos, Affiliated Professor of Practice in Strategy

It’s a given for today’s managers to design strategies within the context of the industry and competitive landscapes in which they operate based on principles of modern competitive strategy that, at their root, are aimed at beating the competition. While this starting point is useful, it often leads to an unintended consequence as companies lose sight of ‘Strategy’ and find themselves trapped in a dilemma as a result of a single-minded focus on benchmarking the competition. Not surprising then that a great deal of effort is expended on tinkering with products/services that offer minor incremental improvements leading to very modest value creation. This is what we call the ‘Red Ocean’.
On the other hand, case after case from pioneering INSEAD professors Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne research show that a few truly innovative ideas are responsible for disproportionate amounts of value creation and should, therefore, become the focus of managers in charge of designing and implementing strategies and business plans. Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS) is a powerful framework and set of tools aimed at spurring the manager’s strategic innovative ‘juices’ in order to pursue significant value creation.
BOS guides managers to acquire a very different mindset by freeing them from several of tenets that act as blockages to strategic innovation. BOS alters the traditional mindset by shifting the focus of managers from the competition and the constraints imposed by the industry’s structure toward the customer and how to develop a compelling value proposition that increases buyer value while simultaneously reducing the cost structure of the business significantly.
Building on the BOS framework introduced in the core Strategy course, the BOS elective will run as fast-paced ‘Bootcamp’ that simulates how INSEAD works with executives and managers to implement a Blue Ocean Shift in their organizations. The objective is for each participant to exit the course with a BOS ‘quick & dirty’ idea ready for further exploration once ‘back in the office’. Participants will work individually, in pairs and in teams to generate BOS ideas, discuss them and pitch them to each other. The course will feature an idea-generation ‘hackathon’ leading to the ‘Blue Ocean Fair’ whereby a number of ‘finalist’ ideas will be presented and voted upon by the participants to select the top 3 winners of the competition.

Blue Ocean frameworks and techniques we’ll learn and practice applying in this elective include the:

  • Pioneer-Migrator-Settler (PMS) map
  • Strategy Canvas
  • Buyer Experience Cycle/Buyer Utility Map (BEC/BUM) and ‘Pain Points’
  • The Six Paths
  • BOS implementation process