How To Find Your Blue Ocean Strategy®: Step 4

Ok, so maybe you have realized that your current business strategy has left you struggling to find growth markets. Your game plan has been to shrink costs, find cheaper manufacturers and outsource back office duties. Margins are hanging in there but revenue growth is still slow, maybe stalled. Are you “on the brink?”

In my book, “On The Brink: A Fresh Lens To Take Your Business To New Heights,” I describe seven companies that were literally “on the brink.” While they were not failing, neither were they soaring. For each of them, it was time to step out of their stagnant environment and find new markets—to literally see the new opportunities that were all around them.

They needed to find a “Blue Ocean Strategy®.” Once they did, they were able to discover new markets full of customers who had big unmet needs and where they could add value in innovative ways.

I have written a series of three blogs about the steps we follow with clients to help them accomplish these two vital strategies: open new market space and find unmet needs. Now it is time for Step 4. You can refer back to the others or keep moving forward. And the way forward is really “all around you.”

Steps 1, 2 and 3 set the stage. Now it is time to turn those observations into innovations: Step 4

My previous blogs on Blue Ocean Strategy (created by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim in their renowned book “Blue Ocean Strategy”described how to use the methods of BOS to open new market space, become a value innovator and make the competition irrelevant. To get you up to speed:

If you’ve already started your BOS process, you’ve probably done some of the following:

1) You did a strategic canvas to see what you are investing in today and how your strategy differs from other solutions—namely, the competitors you are trying to beat in the “bloody red” ocean you are swimming in now.

2) Then you went visually exploring to find consumers’ pain points and other missed opportunities. You sat in on calls to your customer service phones to hear what your company “doesn’t do” when people call in, searching for new solutions for their unmet needs. You went out into the field to directly observe how your current customers use your products or services to solve their current problems and their emerging ones. Or maybe you left your “business bubble” and opened your eyes to how markets are functioning with or without the right solutions.

3) Then you took the Buyer’s Experience Map and determined where you could make the buying, using and disposing of your product or service easier, less complex and more productive for current and future customers.

So now what do you do with all these ideas and observations?

You return to the strategic canvas (detailed in my Step 1 blog) to see what you can create that will add value in innovative ways. This is more than just incrementalism, where you tweek something to improve it. This is back-to-the-drawing-board thinking about what a new market really needs and how your can be their “A #1 very best” solution for those needs.

How do you do this?

The Four Action Framework

You have a lot of observations from the visual exploring. Now, you’re ready for the Four Action Framework. To help you prioritize and focus, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What can we create that will add value in innovative ways to open this new market space?
  2. What if we need to create awareness and increase investment in areas that our industry has not focused on before?
  3. What can we reduce that we don’t need as much as before?
  4. What can we eliminate? (Seriously think about what will no longer be of value as you open this new market space or innovatively add value to your current markets.)

It should be easy to complete if you use this simple chart:

Slide60 edited.jpg

Think of this as your ERRC (Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create) exercise

Once completed, take your original strategic canvas and apply your new answers to the horizontal access. Then redraw the strategic canvas so that it now assigns higher rankings to your new level of investments and raised areas and lower ranking to those things you eliminated or reduced. 

As an example, the strategic canvas for Andre Rieu, the orchestra conductor who completely reinvented the classical music concert with great results, looks like this:



Now, step back and take a look. Has your new strategic canvas, your roadmap of the future, captured your vision of where your business organization is going? What’s the story it tells you and your team? And most importantly, how can you now visually and verbally communicate it?

Next: how to successfully open this new market space

Stay tuned for my next blog where I take you through strategies for opening the new the market space(s) you have identified. Let us know if our series of Blue Ocean Strategy blogs is helping you along the path to your new Blue Ocean adventure and a new market space for growth.Send along your thoughts to

Want to know more? We have a white paper for you.

The logic and power of finding a Blue Ocean in a world of competitor-dominated “red oceans” is so clear, once you “see” it. Our white paper, “10 Ways To Swim in Blue Oceans and Avoid Those Red Ones,” shows you how.


And for an even deeper dive into Blue Ocean Strategy, check out our video.

Are you ready to embark on your own Blue Ocean Strategy?

Are you ready for a Blue Ocean Strategy instead of slugging it out in your old red ocean? We have done over 300 workshops and keynotes for CEOs and companies that need or want to find their Blue Ocean Strategies—in all types of industries in the US, Canada and around the world. Perhaps we can be of help to you and your organization. Please contact us for a free consultation. We love to talk Blue Ocean!

 From Observation to Innovation


Andi Simon
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants 
To learn more just reach out to:
Author: “On The Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business To New Heights