In our last installment, we discussed he four major hurdles that arise when preparing to implement a Blue Ocean strategy. We looked at the four basic hurdles of Cognitive Issues, Resources, Motivation, and Politics, as well as a series of examples that relate to the anime world. In tonight’s discussion, we’ll take a look at the Tipping Point, and how to use it to push an organization across the hurdles, to a quick implementation.

The Tipping Point refers to a phenomenon within a given business. Basically, it assumes that there are unequal forces exerted within a business between key players, policies, and procedures. Those people and actions that have the greatest influence within an industry are seen as “tipping points” which can effect changes most quickly, with the least amount of force exerted upon them.

To identify a Tipping Point, one must ask the following questions:

  • Which factors display the largest positive influence against the status quo?
  • Which factors offer the most value for the least amount of resources?
  • Which factors will motivate key players to move forward with changes with the most enthusiasm?
  • What political hurdles could possibly trip up the business’s strategy, an which factors will avoid them?

Over the next few installment, we will discuss how a company can induce a quick turn-around by placing unbalanced pressure on these points of potential change. By doing so, a company can force a quick turn-around at a low opportunity and resource cost.

In tonight’s installment, we’ll discuss the Cognitive Hurdle. For many, this is the most difficult hurdle to overcome, since it deals with the social element of a business setting. People like the status quo. It’s safe, it’s reliable, and it ensures that everything happens in a consistent manner. The need for change may not manifest on an obvious level until it’s too late. Even if they’re aware that something needs to be done, they may not see an alternative to the status quo that would be viable and usable.

Because statistics can be manipulated, and numbers don’t usually stick with people, the case for change or benefits of alternatives may seem esoteric when communicated across the chain of command. The CEO or executives of a company may see the case in this form, but it would become increasingly abstract and threatening as one moves down the chain of command. Because of this, Tipping Point solutions to Cognitive issues don’t rely on facts or figures. Instead forces all players to look at the issue first-hand. According to The Blue Ocean Strategy, “[instead] of relying on numbers to tip the cognitive hurdle, they make people experience the need for change in two ways:”

  • Force management and executives to see problems with their organization first-hand
  • Force management and customers to listen to their most disgruntled and upset customers.

In the former situation, managers are forced to confront the realities of the market they live within. Basically, they have to become customers of their own industry, in order to see the dire (or simply declining) situation in which their industry rests. In the anime industry,this would include forcing higher-ups to shop for their own anime products like most average customers: Buy through Best Buy, brick and mortar stores, or sites like Right Stuf. This would force users to see the problems with their current model, from distribution to availability of product. After all: It’s one thing to see that shipments are up, more stores are receiving product, and product sales are rising. It’s another to see that the local Best Buy doesn’t have the newest volume of Darker Than Black, damn it!

In the latter, management sees, first-hand, that there is a sizable audience that is dissatisfied with the current status quo, and demands an improvement in some fashion. Interactions with the customer can reveal that perceptions within the organization are off-base. For example, while a company may take pride in fast shipments to retailers and a consistent release schedule, they my be overlooking the fact that customers can’t find earlier volumes of a title. This is a particularly common complaint among manga fans, who have long complained that bookstores rarely restock on early volumes. Mind that this may not be the fault of the publisher specifically, but it’s a phenomenon that reflects poorly on the company from the point of view from a casual observer.