‘Blue Ocean’ thinking

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“AND then the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin
I WILL not go into the technical details of Kim and Mauborgne’s best seller Blue Ocean Strategy which is pitched at high level industry and corporates.
I will however borrow their central theme of questioning the status quo and doing things differently.
Its half-way through the year and this seems an opportune time to review the progress one may or may not be making in living one’s purpose.
In the last month or so I have had occasion to interact with women who are on the brink of abandoning their careers in pursuit of business or have already ventured into business and are finding the going tough.
If you can relate to this situation, the following points are worth considering.
Amazing things happen when a woman taps into her talents and manifests what her soul desires.
Remember the Susan Boyle phenomenon – she was close to midlife, portly in appearance and with no suitors in sight.
Yet the day she decided to fulfil a deathbed promise to her mother and enter a singing competition, the world stood aside and she rose to stardom.
Her talent was such that it defied all the accepted norms of what a superstar should look like and also what the proper entry into the music industry should be.
We have to realise that the accepted approach of scanning the environment to see “opportunities” and then trying to pursue that has shortcomings.
It’s a method that bases decisions on other people’s manifestations, which are most likely drawn from their own life purpose and vision. The answer lies in creating our own blue ocean.
Competition is often cited as one of the stumbling blocks to business success.
It arises when one throws themselves into the red ocean already inhabited by other people.
Imitation goes hand in hand with this scenario coupled with the notion that things must be done a certain way, according to certain industry norms.
However as Kim and Mauborgne note, by creating our own blue ocean, competition becomes irrelevant.
Say for example a woman decides to fulfil a lifelong dream by starting an NGO.
The accepted way of raising funds is through proposal writing to donors, a time consuming exercise which doesn’t always yield funding because of the competition.
She could instead pursue social entrepreneurship and generate income at the same time pursuing a social cause.
Finding a blue ocean requires a shift in our normal approach to life. A story is told of two people driving past each other on a narrow bend at high speed.
Narrowly missing each other, the woman sticks her head out and shouts “Pig!” to the man in the other car.
Feeling aggrieved, the man in turn shouts “Cow!” at the woman.
The man was shocked when further down the road he had to swerve sharply to avoid a pig that had wandered on to the road.
In the other direction, the woman slowed down for some time, fully expecting to encounter a cow on the road but she didn’t.
Our beliefs and attitudes affect the way we interact with others and the choices we make.
Finally a sense of urgency and commitment to action is required in pursuing one’s dream.
Sometimes when I talk to other women we end up discussing 101 ideas and the danger with this is that one can end up doing many things badly or worse still, nothing at all.
The famous strategist Sun Tzu wrote about the “death ground strategy” where an army finds itself in a corner and is forced to take action.
Come to think of it we are all on death ground and we have been since the day we were born.
This attitude means focusing and giving something our best shot. It may also require acting before we have all the answers or all the resources we think we need.
One can get bogged down in seeking funding or in putting together the perfect business plan instead of actually doing something.
But as Walt Disney said: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
afrikarizma@gmail.com

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