Once a Blue Ocean strategy is formulated, the only step that remains is to execute it. For many organizations, this can quickly become the most difficult part of converting to a Blue Ocean process. Through the entire organization, minds must be changed, and operations must be switched away from the status quo. This can, and often will meet resistance among the ranks. As one prepares to enact an organization’s Blue Ocean strategy, they must be ready to deal with the following potential roadblocks:

  • Cognitive Issues
  • Resources
  • Motivation
  • Politics

Cognitive Issues involves preparing employees and management for the upcoming changes. People, by nature, are resistant to change. The familiar is comfortable and welcome, as it’s something that’s proven to work. Because of the success through the years, people are reluctant to move away from established norms. For example, in the market today, we’re seeing the cognitive issues arise, as many customers demand a more de-centralized approach to anime – people want to be able to watch on their iPads, their Roku boxes, their XBoxes and other devices. However, as businesses’ most profitable ventures is still DVD, there’s still a cognitive desire to stick with this market, as it’s a proven seller that works out most of the time. As you saw in our survey of the market, though, there is a definite desire to see certain titles get less of a physical presence – titles that may not resonate with the market at large, and instead end up collecting dust in the bargain bins. These titles would benefit most from a reduced physical presence in the market (which could feasibly be negotiated to lower license costs), though the cognitive norms of the market dictate that they’ll do just as well (if not better) with a physical release.

Motivation involves the need to get the key players moving. With no motivation to change, there will be no break from the status quo, and therefore no enactment of the Blue Ocean strategy that was formulated. Instead, what should be a fast and sharp change will take years, and the direction of the business will likely be in a completely wrong direction by its conclusion. To quote an example of a motivational issue, I’d like to look at digital distribution. As broadband penetrated the American landscape, we saw an uptick in digital sharing. It wasn’t long before we saw Bittorrent becoming a go-to for many anime fans looking for their fix. However, since the industry was busy competing with itself over the DVD market, there was little motivation to focus on the digital. Token glances to this growing sector were made, but nothing substantial came about until 2008, when Crunchyroll began legal operations. Crunchyroll, who had specialized in digital streaming after years of grey-to-black-market anime distribution, was well-equipped to hit the ground running with a site that streamed anime for free, and through legal means. Once a real competitor hit the market, we saw an incredible shift toward digital, as the motivation to explore new markets finally manifested in the industry. The presence of a competitor, another company to eat the big boys’ lunches, created the impetus for them to shift gears and adopt new, radical strategies.

Resources involves the funding and other resources that are needed to enact the shift. In a Blue Ocean shift, resources will often be reduced, which leaves less room for a long change-over. The final hurdle, Politics, involves dealing with the day to day realities of office politics. Basically, working around management and around the higher-ups, in order to enact the iea without being shot down by somebody along the line.

Not every company will run into these roadblocks on an equal level, or all of them at all. However, those that do will find that the normal means of dealing with problems in a business will be fairly impotent. Instead, the easiest and most effective way of mitigating the issue is finding a tipping point: something that will push those involved in the project to move ahead with little resistance. In our next installment, we’ll discuss the tipping point, and how an organization can push themselves over the edge to enact real change.