Have many blue ocean strategic moves failed due to the lack of blue ocean leadership?
First, while blue ocean strategy and blue ocean leadership are complementary, we should be clear that the implementation of one does not necessarily require the implementation of the other. All organizations are different with different needs. Some face more pressing challenges on the leadership front. State-owned organizations that have been recently privatized, organizations that have come out of a recent large merger, or organizations that have been effectively run into the ground by a prior poor leader tend to be classic examples. In these situations, the leadership challenge can be so daunting and the level of disengagement so high, that senior management decides to get all hands on deck to focus with laser-like precision on creating a step change in leadership strength by singly focusing on blue ocean leadership. There are other organizations, by contrast, whose market challenge is so pressing that their focus is directed to breaking out of the red ocean and applying blue ocean strategy straight out. It’s important to note that blue ocean strategy also has a built-in mechanism for creating a strong people proposition, needed for the successful implementation of a strategic move. Tipping point leadership and fair process, the key execution frameworks of blue ocean strategy, help organizations build execution into strategy and overcome key organizational hurdles that stand in the way of the intended strategic transformation.
What we have found is that most organizations have a fairly good sense of how steep the leadership challenge they face is and tend to make the right call on whether applying blue ocean strategy with their current state of leadership can work. If we feel in meeting the company and speaking with people that their judgment may be off here, we will usually advise rethinking their judgment. In this case, it is advisable for the company to use blue ocean leadership to turn around leadership practice and organizational performance first before pursuing a blue ocean strategic move.