What is your Blue Ocean Strategy for 2015?

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What is your Blue Ocean Strategy for 2015?
Posted January 6, 2015

Whilst many of us are returning to work in early January 2015, it is important to  pause and to do some reflection on what your strategy is for your personal career, before embracing the long list of strategic objectives of your workplace. I believe one of the most effective ways to look at this is to use the Blue Ocean Strategy approach from Kim and Mauborgne (www.blueoceanstrategy.com).

At its core, this model, which is used to create a competitive advantage for businesses in a fast changing landscape, can be applied to your own thinking about how to release your untapped talent and energy and so maintain a high level of engagement. This process, if done properly and regularly, say once a quarter, will also ensure that your skillset is not outdated and that when downsizing happens in your company, you are not at risk of becoming redundant.

The Blue Ocean Strategy, applied to your own career aspirations, encompasses four key questions:

  • What must I do more of?
  • What must I do less of?
  • What do I need to stop doing? And,
  • What do I need to start doing?

For example, will enrolling in an MBA programme enable me to climb the corporate ladder with greater credibility?

Do I need to delegate more and be less controlling towards my direct reports or should I stop working in an environment which has become toxic and explore other opportunities, one which is perhaps more in agreement with my core values and principles? 

You will note that this strategy for your personal career is far more complex that the usual (and often quickly forgotten) New Year’s resolution setting, which fall by the wayside once work deadlines start looming. This four-pronged approach involves a process of in-depth reflection of that which holds value to you personally, and of realistic and sober goal-setting, rather than quickly jotting down a list of ten to-do’s which is not supported by thorough analysis and commitment. This process means that you are physically and psychologically present to your life and critically question long held beliefs and assumptions which may no longer serve you and so open your mind to new ideas and opportunities.

Once you have identified specific issues that will give you a competitive advantage for your career from the answers to the four Blue Ocean Strategy question, set out specific steps for each of the four areas and timelines to achieve these as well as a progress chart. Your plan should include all the key elements, from externally determined aspects (your annual review) to long-range goals (getting an MBA) to short-term tactics (committing to delegating more). All help to create a clear road map to reaching your goals.

Do not assume that you will magically remember to budget for the online courses you identified or that you will not revert to bad habits if you do not have a reminder and a progress chart for your goals. What I have found to be really effective in my role as coach in organizations is that when you enroll stakeholders (whether they are colleagues, managers or family members) in the process to encourage you, support you and keep track of your progress, you are more likely to reach your goals. I recommend that you discuss your thoughts with these stakeholders and ask for their input to ensure you are confidently going in the right direction. For as soon as they start seeing results and changes, it will not only inspire you, but also keep you focused to keep at it.

After all, “the great and glorious masterpiece of humanity is to know how to live with a purpose” (Montaigne).


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