Blue Ocean Moment: Steer Clear of Best-in-Class

The Blue Ocean Strategy
The Blue Ocean Strategy

Bob and I are delivering one of the keynote speeches at the Envelope Manufacturers Association (EMA) annual meeting next week in Atlanta on innovation.  Maynard Benjamin, the EMA’s president, has been a strong advocate of the innovation that Conformer Products Inc. is bringing to the industry, and he asked us to speak to this illustrious group on the alignment of our innovation process to the principles in Blue Ocean Strategy, a terrific business book by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.

So we’re presenting “Swimming in the Blue Ocean.”  And although Conformer Inc. tread this path years before this book appeared on our radar, I have to say that it is quite gratifying to see our strategy laid out so well in this book.  Essentially, the B.O.S. “challenges companies to break out of the red ocean of bloody competition by creating uncontested market space that makes the competition irrelevant.”

Last night, I attended a terrific Forum for Women Executives & Entrepreneurs (FWE&E) event in Silicon Valley.  And the speaker Dee McCrorey, addressing the topic of creating a personal innovation brand said, “Why strive to be best-in-class?  You’re still in the class!”

Though McCrorey didn’t reference Blue Ocean Strategy, her comment got right to the heart of breakthrough innovation.  The book discourages best practices and competitive benchmarking in order to “break away from the competition” (which is an intriguing idea for MBA-types like myself who have spent many hours best practicing and benchmarking).

This concept also addresses how lonely and isolating it can be as a start-up that is committed to zig when others zag.  At times, pitching our patented solutions has made me feel like a crazy person.  Well, the tide has certainly turned, hasn’t it?

I’ll let you know how our speech to the EMA goes next week and post a copy of it on our blog.

Sari McConnell at

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