We never imagined the kind of impact blue ocean strategy could have across the globe. We are humbled and greatly inspired by the recent initiative of a passionate high school student from Maryland, Nicholas Benavides, who organized a county-wide Blue Ocean Competition to challenge his fellow students. Given the great success of this endeavor, plans are already in place to take it state-wide this upcoming academic year. Read our summary in the In Focus section and access the full coverage here. The interview with Nicholas can be viewed here.
Inspired by the next generation of Blue Ocean Leaders, we dedicate this issue of Global Current to Blue Ocean Leadership. Recently the concept was discussed in the webinar"From Blue Ocean Strategy to Blue Ocean Leadership," in which Renée Mauborgne, co-author of Blue Ocean Strategy, explained how leaders at all levels can unlock the unrealized talent and energy of employees and push organizations forward – rapidly and at low cost. The live webinar was the most viewed that Harvard Business Review has ever had to date. We will post the link to the recording here, once available.
If you missed the Blue Ocean Leadership article in the May issue of Harvard Business Review, you can access it here. For more information, visit our website. We have also prepared The Mind Map of Blue Ocean Leadership, which synthesizes key points of the concept and recent news from around the world.
American high school students from the state of Maryland partnered with the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), the largest and oldest business career student organization in the world, to create the first annual Blue Ocean Competition.
The Howard County Blue Ocean Competition challenged students to generate a blue ocean idea they would want to bring to the market. Nicholas Benavides, a high school junior and vice president of his school's chapter of FBLA, spearheaded the initiative. The response was overwhelming. On May 31st, 29 teams presented their ideas in front of the panel of business leaders from across Howard County, Maryland. The winning ideas were a social networking app centered on spreading positivity, a bandage that effectively and painlessly removes splinters and a smart tampon with a weight and RFID sensor to prevent embarrassing accidents and toxic shock syndrome.
Given the success of this endeavor, plans are underway to take the competition statewide this upcoming academic year. We are inspired by the enthusiasm for blue ocean strategy and amazed that young people all over the world are challenging themselves to pursue blue oceans.
Congratulations to all participants of the Howard County Blue Ocean Competition.
Blue Oceans Ahead!
And the winners are...
From left to right: Mrs Kristin Taylor (competition advisor), Chaitra Banala (3rd Place), Katherine Erdman (3rd Place), Kristi Kan (1st Place), Prateek Sayyaparayu (2nd Place), Timothy Chen (2nd Place), Nicholas Benavides (competition chair & organizer)
"There is absolutely no doubt that blue ocean leadership has been an enormous benefit to us. Five years ago we initiated a multipronged operational and market-driven transformation of the Group. Faced with multiple merged organizations we used blue ocean leadership as a key component to creating a common vibrant approach to leadership to rapidly drive change. Leaders got to immediately eliminate and reduce lower value actions giving them the time to focus on re-engaging our people to make a leap in customer care and operational efficiency. It is difficult to remember how tricky things were. The statistics speak for themselves. Our employee engagement scores continue to rise dramatically with leadership scores now at 82%, which is 12% above the high global performance norm, and 84% of our employees now feeling proud to work at Suncorp. We have certainly turned things around here. For me, the relentless focus on removing blockages to people performing is one of the most powerful aspects of blue ocean leadership".
CEO Suncorp Group
The largest insurance company in Australia
and New Zealand employing over 16,000 people
Blue Ocean Leadership in the News
Blue Ocean Leadership
Harvard Business Review, May 2014, United States.
The latest Harvard Business Review article by Professors Kim & Mauborgne discusses how to release your employees' untapped talent and energy through Blue Ocean Leadership. Research suggests that only 30% of employees are committed to doing a good job and that poor leadership is a key cause for widespread employee disengagement. Blue Ocean Leadership involves a four step process that allows leaders to gain a clear understanding of just what changes are needed to bring out the best in their people, while conserving their most precious resource: time.
Innovating Leadership Development with Blue Ocean Leadership
ECSI Blog, June 23, 2014.
What are the limits of conventional executive education? The author suggests that leadership training programs focus on changing individual leadership behaviors and styles which result in unclear benefits for organizations. As a solution to this mounting problem, the author suggests the approach presented by Blue Ocean Leadership, which focuses on specific acts and activities that leaders at all levels can undertake, rather than zooming in on changing leaders' personal traits.
Country Manager of Amazon BuyVIP in Germany, Andreas von der Heydt, summarizes the main concepts of Blue Ocean Leadership and analyzes its viability as a new, value-adding leadership concept to help develop better leaders. He concludes, "The notion that every leader is serving internal customers, i.e. her team, her line managers, and her colleagues is beautiful." He adds, "Its four step implementation process is very solid by using a comprehensive grid and putting a strong emphasis on execution."
An Event That Changed the World and Fostering Compliance Leadership – Part I & II
FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog, June 23, 2014, United States.
Blue Ocean Leadership article "could significantly modify how you, as a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner, will think about getting employees to 'apply their talent and energy to move organizations forward' in compliance and ethics," writes Thomas R. Fox, a lawyer with over 30 years of practice and adds, "I found [Blue Ocean Leadership] to be one of the most interesting and perhaps even game-changing discussions on how to be a more effective leader that I have ever read or heard about."
Urgent: Recruiting Blue Ocean Strategy Leaders to Save Growth and Engagement
Future Talents, May 12, 2014, Canada.
"The important thing today is to create new markets and innovate beyond differentiation," argues Jean-Baptiste Audrerie on the Future Talents blog. He further argues that Blue Ocean Leadership provides a new view on the actions that different levels of management need to challenge themselves with to produce new outcomes. Read the full article for deeper analysis of Blue Ocean Leadership.
The Business of Social Media, July 10, 2014, United States.
'The best and most empirically supported strategy book I have ever read is Blue Ocean Strategy,' says Lloyd Melnick, Senior Director at Hit It Rich!, Zynga's iPad and Facebook social casino app. As a self-proclaimed student and fan of blue ocean strategy, the author recommends Blue Ocean Leadership for its compelling process and underlying logic.
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Businesses of all sizes have to make crucial decisions. For a managed service provider, deciding how to procure your IT equipment is up there with the toughest of them. Without the most basic of hardware, capitalizing on remote monitoring, IT security, and all the services you want to provide is just not a reality. While buying what you need is ideal, leasing is becoming a viable alternative MSPs can’t help but consider. The Highs and Lows of Leasing IT Hardware Low upfront costs. Leasing is an attractive option because it allows you to obtain the hardware assets you need without necessarily having a lot of money. Instead of paying $2,000 for a new server, you might only have to pay $50 every month with little to no upfront costs. Leasing equipment is a great option for startups and other companies that are looking for a predictable model that keeps operating expenses and cash-flow in control. Tech-friendly arrangements. Technology becomes outdated quickly. The high-tech computer you buy today will be dwarfed by another model next year. Renting your equipment will usually keep you on par with the technological curve. It may cost you a bit more, but you generally have immediate access to the latest technology on the market. In some cases, leasing comes with additional support services that cover updates, patches, and ongoing maintenance. Flexible payment options. I’m sure you’re familiar with the rent-to-own chains that let you nickel and dime your way to ownership. The same type of stores exist for computer hardware. In this scenario, leasing becomes a long-term investment that furnishes your IT room with all the parts that are essential to your network. Leasing can be so flexible that you’ll feel like a negotiating genius when securing an arrangement that accommodates your budget and operating needs. Higher overall costs. The downside to the lease concept is that you come out of a lot more money in the long run. With interest rates, monthly payments and other fees, you could end up paying thousands more than had you simply purchased the hardware outright. Even if you’re renting to own, your hardware may depreciate to a point where it has very little value by the time your contract is up with the hardware company, resulting in a bargain that isn’t as great as it seemed initially. Contractual obligations. Add all the flexibility you want. Once you’re in, you’re in. When you lease your hardware, you’re generally on the hook for the entire length of the contract. This is often the case even when you’re no longer using it. Sure, you may be able to cancel, but early termination fees aren’t designed to be light on your wallet. Miscellaneous hassles. Leasing your equipment typically calls for you to jump through quite a few hoops. There are often countless questions, credit requirements, financial requirements, and tons of paperwork that needs to be completed. Making the decision to buy eliminates those hassles. Identify your needs, purchase it, and own it for as long as it serves its purpose. Finding Hardware Leasing Opportunities It’s a bit trickier to find vendors that lease IT equipment, but there are a few suitors out there. In one corner, you’ve got your heavy hitters like IBM who supply servers, network equipment, and even mobile devices on leased terms. In the other, you have several regional vendors that provide laptops, desktops, firewalls, and other equipment to local businesses. Managed service providers should answer a round of simple, yet important questions when deciding whether to lease or buy their IT hardware. How much you got? The decision to buy or lease ultimately comes down to budget. Do you plan on upgrading your technology on a regular basis? If you need a full complement of inventory, yet don’t have the jack to pay for it all at once, leasing is a smart option. What kind of lease is it? Hardware is generally leased in two formats: capital leases and operating leases. With a capital lease, you enjoy benefits such as breaks from tax depreciation, and bear the burden of risks like your IT assets becoming outdated and useless. In an operating lease, your equipment becomes an operating expense instead of a tax deductible asset. The operating variety is more common and favorable because it can be obtained on short terms that don’t tie up money for too long. What are the terms? Terms get pretty complex when you’re talking about leasing equipment. How long are you locked in for? 24 months? 48 months? A lengthy contract will keep your payments low and manageable, but you’ll pay substantially more in the end. Does the hardware need to be insured? Can the lease be amended? This is stuff you have to know before renting your IT equipment. Are you supporting customers? Fulfilling the hardware needs of clients is another source of recurring revenue for MSPs to explore. Customers who purchase your mobile device management offering may be willing to rent some of the equipment you have on hand as well. In this case, buying would be the smart choice, since you can recoup your money and add to it with a smart leasing strategy of your own. What are your app needs? Hardware is generally rendered outdated by two factors: time and app technology. Now that Windows XP has exceeded its end of life cycle, companies are flocking to buy equipment that supports the recommended Windows 7 and Windows 8 upgrades. When app usage is so crucial that you regularly have to upgrade to new equipment, then the inventory of perspective vendors will come into play. If rental vendors can’t keep up with the dynamics of your complex IT environment, then buying may be the most logical option. Buy, Leasing, and Cloud Coverage Nowadays, managed service providers have the luxury to say forget about purchasing or even leasing hardware, and opt for the cloud. In the Infrastructure-as-as-Service (IaaS) as model, companies can procure the networking resources needed to run their applications, store their data, and manage their operation on a day to day basis. Since the assets are administered in a virtual environment, you technically don’t have to deal with any hardware as it is physically maintained by the service provider. With private and public arrangements available, cloud computing is arguably the most flexible hardware solution for managed service providers in need. The right path to procuring IT equipment is a situational thing. Buying can help you save money and control your destiny. Leasing can help you stretch your dollar and grow the business at your own pace. The cloud can provide you with all the on-demand flexibility you can ask for at the price of risks that are still being determined. Put your own list of questions together and find out what works best for your situation. by Contel Bradford