Full Review - Blue Ocean Strategy, Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim

Discover how to create new undisputed market spaces with “Blue Ocean Strategy”, an innovative book for profitable growth

“Blue Ocean Strategy” is a groundbreaking book on business strategy that challenges the traditional view of competition.

Written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, professors at INSEAD, this book offers a new approach to generating profitable growth: creating new uncontested market spaces, the “blue oceans”, rather than fighting in the existing “red oceans”.

The central themes covered include:

  1. The strategic logic of the blue ocean : the simultaneous search for differentiation and low costs to open up a new market space.
  2. Value innovation : the cornerstone of the blue ocean strategy, which consists in creating a jump in value for buyers and the business.
  3. Analytical tools and frameworks : the strategic framework, the framework of the four actions, the value curve, to formulate and execute a blue ocean strategy.
  4. The principles of formulation and execution : how to rebuild market boundaries, focus on the big picture, go beyond existing demand, sequence the strategy well and overcome organizational obstacles.

Critical review

“Blue Ocean Strategy” is a book that has the potential to completely change the way businesses think about strategy and innovation. It is a major contribution to the field of strategy, offering a compelling new paradigm for generating profitable growth.

The highlights of the book:

  • The core idea of value-innovation : by showing that it is possible to pursue differentiation and low costs simultaneously, Kim and Mauborgne offer a powerful alternative to the dogma of the value-cost compromise.
  • Practical tools and frameworks : the book is not content with theory, it provides a concrete methodology for formulating and executing a blue ocean strategy, with visual and easy to use tools.
  • The wealth of examples : the authors illustrate their concepts with a multitude of cases, from various sectors and from different countries, making the theory tangible and showing that the principles are widely applicable.
  • The prospect of rebuilding market borders : by encouraging people to look beyond narrow definitions of industry and competition, the book opens up new possibilities for innovation.

One caveat is that the book can sometimes give the impression that creating a blue ocean is a linear and predictable process. In reality, breakthrough innovation always involves a certain amount of uncertainty and trial and error that should not be underestimated.

In addition, Although the authors discuss implementation challenges, we would have liked more details on how to align organization and culture with a blue ocean strategy, beyond purely strategic aspects.

Despite these limitations, “Blue Ocean Strategy” remains an essential work for any manager or entrepreneur seeking to differentiate themselves and create new growth. It is a stimulating call to question the rules of the game and to push the boundaries of your industry.

Key Points to Remember

  1. Head-on competition in the existing “red oceans” is making growth and profitability increasingly difficult. We must seek to create “blue oceans”, new uncontested market spaces.
  2. Value innovation is the key to creating blue oceans. It is about creating a jump in value for buyers and the company by simultaneously pursuing differentiation and low costs.
  3. The strategic framework is a diagnostic tool for visualizing the current state of competition in an industry and identifying the levers for rebuilding market boundaries.
  4. The framework of the four actions guides the reformulation of the value curve: eliminate, reduce, create, increase. The aim is to radically diverge from the strategic logic of the industry.
  5. A blue ocean strategy must be pursued with as much attention to execution as to formulation. Cognitive, political, motivational, and resource barriers need to be overcome.

Similar books

  • “Reinventing your business model” by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
  • “The Competitive Advantage” by Michael Porter

Author Profile

W. Chan Kim is a professor of international strategy and management at INSEAD, one of the world's leading business schools.

Kim is a recognized expert in strategy, innovation and growth:

  • His research focuses on the blue ocean strategy, which he co-developed with Renée Mauborgne.
  • He has published numerous articles in prestigious journals such as the Harvard Business Review, the Sloan Management Review, and the Academy of Management Journal.
  • He has advised numerous multinational companies on their strategy and growth.

Renée Mauborgne is a professor of strategy at INSEAD and co-director of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Institute.

Mauborgne is a global authority on business strategy, innovation and growth:

  • His research with W. Chan Kim on the blue ocean strategy has been widely recognized and adopted around the world.
  • She was named among the top 5 management professors in the world by Thinkers50.
  • She sits on the boards of directors of several businesses and non-profit organizations.

Together, Kim and Mauborgne have written several best sellers on the blue ocean strategy:

  • “Blue Ocean Strategy”, published in 2005, was a worldwide success and has been translated into 46 languages.
  • They then further explored their ideas in “Blue Ocean Shift” in 2017, detailing the 5-step process for moving from theory to practice.
  • Their books have sold over 4 million copies and are read in over 50 countries.

With “Blue Ocean Strategy”, Kim and Mauborgne introduced a new paradigm in business strategy that revolutionized the way businesses think about innovation and growth.

*Their central idea of value-innovation, simultaneously pursuing differentiation and low costs, called into question decades of strategy theory and practice. *

For Kim and Mauborgne, success and profitable growth don't come from beating the competition, but from making the competition irrelevant by creating a jump in value for buyers in a new market space.

With this book, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne established themselves as pioneers of a new school of strategic thinking. “Blue Ocean Strategy” is not just a book, it's a movement that has inspired thousands of businesses around the world to rethink their approach to innovation and growth.


Does the blue ocean strategy apply to all businesses and industries?

Yes, the principles of the blue ocean are widely applicable. Kim and Mauborgne studied businesses from over 30 industries over a period of 100 years and found examples of blue oceans in each. Whether you are a startup or an established business, in B2C or B2B, there is always potential to create new market spaces.Q

Does creating a blue ocean always require technological innovation?

No, and that's an important point. While technology can be a powerful lever, many blue oceans are created without major technological innovations, simply by rethinking the value proposition and business model. Cirque du Soleil, for example, created a blue ocean in the circus world without relying on technology.

Does the book provide tips for maintaining a competitive edge once a blue ocean is created?

Kim and Mauborgne address this issue and recognize that no blue ocean lasts forever. Sooner or later the imitators are coming. However, they argue that the pioneers of the blue ocean have a significant advantage in terms of brand, economies of scale, and learning curve. The key is not to stop and to keep innovating to create new blue oceans.

What are the main differences between the red ocean strategy and the blue ocean strategy?

The red ocean strategy considers industry conditions to be given and seeks to beat the competition by gaining a share of an existing market. The blue ocean strategy, on the contrary, sees market boundaries and industry structure as malleable. It seeks to create new demand and to make competition irrelevant. It's a strategic paradigm shift.


In conclusion, “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne is a groundbreaking book that has profoundly influenced the way businesses think about innovation, growth, and strategy. With its powerful concept of value-innovation, practical tools, and inspiring examples, it is a must read for any manager or entrepreneur looking to differentiate themselves and create new profitable market spaces.

Whether you are in a startup looking for disruption or an established business looking to renew its growth, “Blue Ocean Strategy” will offer you a new perspective on the potential of strategic innovation and a clear framework for formulating and executing your own blue ocean strategy.

A classic of the genre that opened new horizons in business strategy. A book to study, discuss, and apply in order to successfully navigate the choppy waters of the market and create your own blue ocean of profitable and sustainable growth.