Business Consulting - Informative Resources

Start with Why - Simon Sinek



Entrepreneur Simon Sinek "hit rock bottom" in late 2005. He had started his own consulting business in 2002, but three years later, he ran out of passion. Dead-ended, Sinek thought about what made him happy. He wondered why some leaders and companies succeeded and others do not. He realized that inspirational leaders identify a purpose and follow it. The actions they take and what they make is secondary to achieving their mission. Sinek calls this leadership process the "Golden Circle": It starts with a vision (the "Why"), then moves to implementation (the "How"), and then conquers the product or service (the "What"). Unfortunately, many leaders have this pattern backward. They first focus on what they do and how; then they try to differentiate their product based on price, quality or features. Although Sinek isn't subtle about his message, in his approach to executives, managers, leaders and those who seek to rediscover their passion.

You will learn

  • Why great leaders want to inspire their customers, rather than manipulating them into buying;
  • What inspirational leaders do to build employees' and customers' trust; and how to hire others who share your vision.

About the Author: Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is an optimist and adjunct member of the RAND Corporation. His book Start With Why expands on his popular TED Talk, "How great leaders inspire action."

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Blue Ocean Strategy - The Next Big Idea


For many business owners, their focus is how to compete in their competitive industries. For the restaurant industry there are endless amounts of competitors that provide similar products. For other industries, they might be trying to sell the exact same product.

The question that is then asked is how to differentiate from the competitors? What can be done to become the better option? For many businesses it becomes the customer service or extra amenities offered. While this may separate the business from the below average industry competitors, these types of things should be a given of what to do when trying to run a good business.

Then what can really differentiate your business from competitors?

To help answer this question, consider a blue ocean strategy. This strategy created by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne states that most businesses operate in red oceans. These red oceans are described as shark infested waters filled with blood from countless competitors fighting for scraps of market share. What they suggest for businesses who want to prosper is to create their own new blue oceans. These oceans are uncontested and creates new demand for a new market.
Why fight a for small share of profits against so many competitors when you could create your own market contesting against no one else?

This may seem hard, but this progressive thinking about your business could be what gets you to where you want your business to go.

Blue Ocean Strategy

What is Blue Ocean Strategy and why should I care about? My simple answer is that it is a strategy consisting of differentiation and lower cost which embraces the entire system of activities within a company to create a unique situation.

Here's how it works. Value is created in areas where the company's actions have a favorable impact on its cost structure and from the value propositions offered to customers. Competition is not the center of strategic thinking. This enables cost savings to occur as a result of eliminating and reducing the factors which are normally the focus of competition.

Value is enhanced by raising and creating features and components that are not typically offered within the industry. The structure of an industry can be shaped and is not just taken for granted. Over time costs are reduced as economies of scale kick in due to higher sales volume generated through creation of superior value.

Blue Ocean Strategy involves the following four step action process:

  1. Eliminating factors that the industry takes for granted.
  2. Reducing the factors which can be reduced well below standards for the industry.
  3. Creating factors that were never offered by the industry.
  4. Finally, raise the factors that can be raised well above the standard for the industry.

Characteristics of a good strategy include the creation of focus combined with differences from the normal strategic process and linking these concepts with a compelling tagline. This means thinking beyond normal boundaries and exploring new possibilities. These actions take you to "blue oceans" where little or no competition exists in contrast to "red oceans" which are infested with intense competition.

The key to Blue Ocean Strategy is extending beyond existing demand. Your thinking should focus on finding non-customers before thinking about customers. Market areas and customers that haven't been targeted are going to be the essence of finding "Blue Oceans" and successful strategies.

Strategic Planning-

Learning to swim in a Blue Ocean with no sharks

When I hear, "Think outside the box," I cringe. I believe that this command frustrates analytical people; they do not know what to do, or how to do it because there are no rules or assumptions. Instead, I like to tell people to use the right side of their brain - the creative side. A strategic planning approach, The Blue Ocean Strategy, facilitates this type of thinking.

Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS) is a corporate strategy and business book written by Professors W. Chan Kim and Ren© Mauborgne, of INSEAD. The strategy attempts to create an uncontested market space, and thereby make competition irrelevant. Dim & Maubourgne initially called this "Value Innovation," in 5 articles for the Harvard Business Review published before their 2005 book. BOS is the result of a decade-long study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than 30 industries over 100 years (1880-2000).

There is no easy way to quickly describe BOS, except by example. Cirque du Soleil is a good example of a company that meets the BOS criteria (focus, divergence, and compelling tagline). For example, compare this circus to Ringling Bros. using the following factors: star performers, animal shows, 3-ring arenas, aisle concessions, theme, unique venue, and artistic dances. Cirque du Soleil concluded that the public really did not want star performers, animal shows, 3-ring arenas, and aisle concessions. In addition, star performers and animal shows were very expensive. They decided to do away with the three, but added theme, unique venue and artistic dances. This created a unique market because they were discarding what the public did not value, and added new aspects that the public would value. Instead of being in a "bloody" red ocean competing on price or quality, they could be competitive by offering a new experience for the audience.

If you are in the artistic world, maybe I can stretch this example to Paul Simon. In 1986, he could have composed music using the same style such as folk (Simon & Garfunkel), or a pop (Kodachrome). However, he used his artistic ability to expand his use of world music. In 1986 he released Grammy award-winning Graceland ,which featured the groundbreaking use of African rhythms and performers. In 1990, he followed with the album The Rhythm of the Saints, which featured Brazilian musical themes. These albums helped to popularize world music as a genre. It essentially created a blue ocean for him without competition in a new genre.

Now this is not to say that every blue ocean does not turn red, because once the idea is manifested, there is a window of uncontested opportunity. So, what a business must do is continually develop blue oceans and keep ahead of the competition.

This strategy theory is great, but 80% of strategies are not implemented. To make the system complete you should integrate other business requirements like forecasting techniques, critical success factors, benchmarks, monitoring systems, and reporting dashboards. We pride ourselves on offering this continuum so that your blue ocean doesn't bleed red.