The most common mistake when ending a Blue Ocean Strategy Project

This article is the last in a series of 6 common pitfalls to implementing a Blue Ocean Strategy— and how to avoid them. If you missed the first five, go back and read them here, here, here, here and here. And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any of them.

If you’ve been following along this series, you now know the key pitfalls to avoid at every stage of a Blue Ocean Strategy implementation project.

From getting initial buy-in from leadership, to setting up the project team, to getting outside feedback on the strategy ideas, implementing a Blue Ocean Strategy requires doing things differently throughout the project.

And that’s true even after the strategy project ends.

In this article, you’ll learn the key pitfall companies face when wrapping up their Blue Ocean Strategy project– and how to avoid it. The insights I share come from 12 years of helping companies implement Blue Ocean strategy from beginning to end.

But before we jump in, let’s start with a case study.

The hidden opportunity even after the Blue Ocean Strategy project ends

Blue Ocean Strategy helps companies boost their business by creating value for new customers – or non-customers, in Blue Ocean lingo –  in non-traditional ways. But the companies that benefit from the approach long-term go beyond this — they incorporate Blue Ocean thinking into their daily life.

Take the example of one of my clients, an IT company that was looking for its next “blue ocean.” The company identified fresh ways to grow through implementing the process — but it didn’t stop there.

The CEO understood that the only way to continuously uncover new opportunities was to get engineers out talking to non-customers on a regular basis. He had seen how fruitful that approach was during the earlier stages of the project and knew that the more his people listened to pain points from customers and non-customers, the better they would be able to imagine fresh product and service offerings that create an unparalleled customer experience.

It took some time for the team to become comfortable with it, but with the CEO’s focus on creating a Blue Ocean mindset, that fieldwork eventually became part of the company culture.

What’s more, the company didn’t just encourage fieldwork, it also put in place a platform to capture the learnings and the resulting ideas. Employees posted their results in the

company-wide platform on an ongoing basis and once a month, the team got together to review the learnings, spurring new ideas and continuous value innovation.

Pitfall: Thinking value innovation is over once the strategy project ends

Organizations that strive for innovation often put significant resources into creating their strategies. They take the time to train senior management, they spend the money necessary to manage the project, they dedicate a team of employees to implement the changes to the business.

However, once the strategy is implemented, it’s back to “business as usual.”

This is a common– and costly– mistake. Implementing one value innovation strategy and then going back to “normal” dismisses the time and effort that went into value innovation in the first place.

Becoming a more innovative organization that continuously builds value into its products and services is not a one-off strategy: it’s a mindset shift that must be instilled throughout the organization.

Create a culture that nurtures innovation

Companies should encourage every employee to ask different questions, seek different perspectives and look differently at the way the organization does business. By ensuring a culture of openness, creative thinking and challenging assumptions, the innovation mindset remains alive.

Companies that want to remain innovative encourage their sales and technical teams to regularly talk to non-customers to uncover new pain points that would otherwise go undiscovered. They put platforms in place for employees at all levels of the organization to share learnings and new ideas. They have regular get-togethers where managers encourage new ways of thinking and working to create new solutions.

And above all, they create an environment that nurtures value innovation by encouraging employees to think– and, more importantly, act— differently than “the way we’ve always done it.”

The bottom line

Implementing a successful value innovation strategy doesn’t just mean avoiding pitfalls. It means creating a shared mindset and working environment that encourage innovative ideation and allow the possibility for the best ideas to evolve. To get the most out of your Blue Ocean Strategy, make sure the value innovation process doesn’t end with the project. By putting in place processes and tools that encourage employees to challenge the status quo and uncover new pain points, companies can ensure continuous value creation– and growth– long after the strategy project ends.

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