Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blue Ocean Strategy: Learning to Win Without a Fight

Make Competition Irrelevant

Blue Ocean Strategy: Learning to Win Without a Fight


By Sathya Menon

 In a post-recession economy, when major companies are looking to reinvent the industry and create a whole “new market space” to conquer competition and push profit margins, they are increasingly adopting the “Blue Ocean” mantra advocated by Harvard professors W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.

 First published in 2005 the Blue Ocean Strategy handbook outlines that the best way to compete is to stop trying to beat the competition. Professionals should learn to create new demand in an uncontested market space, or a "Blue Ocean", rather than compete with each other in an existing industry.

Markets are typically classified into red oceans (known or existing markets) and blue oceans (non-existent, unknown or untapped markets).

Blue Ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored. In sharp contrast, in the Red Ocean industry boundaries are defined. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand.

As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities or niche, and cut-throat competition turns the ocean red.

The most dazzling example of the Blue Ocean strategy is the performance of the Cirque du Soleil.  Created in 1984 by a group of street performers, Cirque productions have been seen by almost 40 million people in 90 cities around the world.  What makes this rapid growth all the more remarkable is that it was not achieved in an attractive industry, but rather, in an industry with declining revenue for potential growth.

Cirque du Soleil’s success was not attained by taking customers from the already shrinking circus industry (which had historically catered to children) but instead, they were successful because they created a new marketplace in which to compete. Their offering appealed to a whole new group of customers: adults and corporate clients who were prepared to pay a price several times as great for a show that spelled excellence.

Some of  the other shining examples include lightweight footwear company Crocs (fashionable and low-priced), Air Asia (easy booking system),  ING Direct banking (superior interest rates on savings with no fees) and  Ninetendo electronic games (less complexity, more fun).


  • Create new market space by challenging traditional assumptions.
  • Innovative and reinvent, adding value for customers.
  • Cut costs, not corners.
  • Set your own rules, make competition irrelevant.

UAE Needs Trained Logistics Professionals

Bridging Gaps between Infrastructure and Knowledge

UAE Needs Trained Logistics Professionals


By Sathya Menon

 UAE is fast becoming the logistics hub of the world vying with Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Manchester for top honours. What the country needs today is a new generation of logistics leaders: dynamic, skillful, innovative and tech-savvy who can effectively bridge the existing gap between knowledge and infrastructure in the region.

The Dubai World Central Logistics Park is nearing completion near the Jebel Ali Free Zone with a projected logistics turnover of 12 million tonnes of air cargo annually. When the Maktoum International Airport opens its doors, UAE’s logistics handling capacity will also increase manifold.

New jobs are being created every year in the UAE and in other Middle East countries. Challenging opportunities await those who can captain the industry in the future. Trained manpower is needed to match the ongoing boom in infrastructure.

Case studies have revealed that a majority of those working in the logistics sector have no specialized training in logistics or supply chain functions. Instead, they are professionals drawn from different streams of engineering and science and sometimes even humanities –who have learned on the job but lack expertise and awareness of global best practices.

Also with the global supply chain function become increasingly complex, a greater understanding of the international logistics and supply chain industry is needed for specialists.

What with the Logistics infrastructure in the Middle East undergoing massive transformation, and a large number of multinationals shifting base to UAE, there is an urgent need now for logistics professionals who can think globally but act locally.

The Logistics and Supply Chain industry has fashioned lucrative careers for thousands of professionals in the Middle East and with a boost infrastructure and facilities, their career is expected to follow an upward trajectory. An internationally certified logistics professional with considerable experience can demand a monthly salary of Dhs. 30,000 plus. Entry level salaries would range from Dhs. 8-12,000.

Those who are grooming themselves for a senior management role, need to focus on global best practices, breakthrough research and cutting edge technology that has revolutionised the industry in the last decade.


As a logistics professional you need

·         Expertise

·         Awareness of global best practices

·         Ability to think globally but act locally




Mr. Sathya Menon is the Academic Director of Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.



Don't Fall Prey to Professional Bullying

Be Assertive to Advance in your Career

Don’t Fall Prey to Professional Bullying

By Sathya Menon

In a competitive workplace where multi-tasking, peer pressure and dynamic role plays are often punctuated by conflict, anger and hurt egos, it is important to learn the right assertive techniques to advance in your career.

There is a cliché: “If you don’t stand up for something, you will fall for anything-” and it rings true even more after the global financial crisis, when the fear of losing jobs or being unfairly victimized has pervaded the employee psyche.

Research shows that increasing number of talented employees are falling prey to professional bullying, feeling drained out and are finally quitting their much-need jobs. That is because they lack self-assurance and are unable to assert themselves when they need to.

You are assertive when you have the confidence and the ability to stand up for your own rights without violating others;  when you beg to differ with someone you respect while putting forward your own opinion; when you are able to turn down unreasonable requests from a boss, a peer or a friend, firmly yet politely.

It all starts with that all important step – ‘saying no’ when it is justified. Here, be soft on the person, but tough on the issue and put forward a clear and concise explanation supported with facts.

Once that is done, accept the consequences. Don’t wait for acceptance or allow the other person to make you feel guilty for being assertive. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

 Anger at the workplace only leads to a loss of credibility. The moment you get angry, the strength of your argument is lost. Resorting to humour, instead, is a great way to reduce resistance and diffuse tension.

To avoid direct confrontation,  and also prevent hurt egos, use techniques like clouding  (respond without any logical connection) or camouflage (limited response).The right body language and effective use of eye statement while putting a message forward is another assertive technique that works well with superiors.

 Now take the test to see if your assertive skills will work for you: Do you usually have confidence in your judgment? If someone has a better solution do you accept it easily? Do you accept positive criticism and suggestions? Do you ask for assistance when you need them?

If you are ticking all the above boxes, then you have discovered the winner in you. You are as good as anyone else, affirm these thoughts in your mind and you will go places.


Handy Hints


·         While saying ‘no’, put forward a logical explanation supported with facts.

·         Be soft on the person, tough on the issue.

·         Anger leads to a loss of credibility.

·         Resort to humour to reduce resistance.






Sathya Menon is Executive Director (Academics), Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.

Six Sigma Movement Gaining Momentum in the UAE

Promising Career Opportunities for Six Sigma Professionals

Six Sigma Movement Gaining Momentum in the UAE

By Sathya Menon

Six Sigma training and certification is gaining momentum in the UAE. International certification in Six Sigma is clearly a “differentiator” when it comes to pushing a resume on to the top of a heap.

Taking its name from a Greek symbol to validate the performance of a company, Six Sigma was first introduced by Motorola in the US and has since become a powerful tool to eliminate defects and cut costs in large business organizations worldwide. The overall success of Six Sigma globally has spawned promising career opportunities for certified Six Sigma professionals in the Middle East.

A Master Six Sigma Black Belt can demand a salary of US $ 25,000 (AED 91,250) per month while a certified Six Sigma Black Belt is worth US$ 20,000 (AED 73,000). A certified Six Sigma Green Belt can demand a salary of US $ 15,000 (Aed 54,750). (These are the world- -wide salaries for Six Sigma professionals as mentioned on various research and job portals).

The world’s top institutions like General Electric, Bank of America, Honeywell, Johnson and Johnson and JP Morgan Chase have implemented Six Sigma methodology resulting in savings worth millions of dollars. At least 25 per cent of Fortune 200 companies have a serious Six Sigma programmes in place.

The entire company needs to embrace the concepts of Six Sigma for it to work properly. If employees are willing to learn it and apply it skillfully to their jobs, costs will be reduced by 50% or more. Six Sigma also helps in understanding customer's needs better.  It improves performance and delivery.

The Six Sigma concepts can be applied to finance, production, sales, marketing, supply chain and logistics design, administration and service. Six Sigma is used most often to help eradicate company malfunctioning through its use of business, statistic and engineering principles.

 Six Sigma can be used to devise any solution that can reduce risks for a company and increase profitability. An example is where a nurse tending to a HIV patient can prevent herself from catching the deadly virus with the aid of a superbly-designed syringe, using the Six Sigma methodology.

Six Sigma training helps employees in better utilization of resources. It increases employee confidence as it imparts new skills that can be easily used and built upon in the workplace. Companies who have successfully implemented Six Sigma methodology can definitely expect better services from each other.

 Six Sigma professionals

·         Cut costs for the company

·         Eliminate defects in the business process

·         Reduce risks, improve performance and delivery

·         Understand customer needs

Mr. Sathya Menon is Executive Director, Blue Ocean Academy, UAE.