Baduk and Blue Ocean Strategy

I am currently reading a book called the “Blue Ocean Strategy”. I have always enjoyed reading books on strategy and about business (recently also acquired and read “The Google Story”, “The Apple Way” and “How Dell Does It”), a habit acquired during my student days, when reading “In Search of Excellence” and “The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China” gave me a lot of kick and motivation. A very fulfilling feeling.

“Blue Ocean Strategy” (BOS) is something quite new and to me, is very refreshing after reading a string of books by say, the Michael E. Porter, Robert Kaplan gang. The book is about “how to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant.” The idea is that there is no point competing in the existing market space where every company in the market is fighting to death to protect and expand on the limited market. The pie is constant and even if the company wins the fight, the reward is also not very great. Blue Ocean Strategy is about creating a new, uncontested market space, where the reward, if successful, is far greater. The book goes on to provide case studies and tools on how to use this new strategic concepts and with case studies ranging from “Cirque du Soleil” to the movie theatre industry to the manufacturing and services industry, the idea is very convincing.

One part of the book hit me hard and banged the idea into my head. It says, “..Part of the explanation for this [i.e. competiting in existing markets] is that corporate strategy is heavily influenced by its roots in military strategy……. Described in this way, strategy is about confronting an opponent and fighting over a given piece of land that is both limited and constant. Unlike war, however, the history of industry shows us that the market universe has never been constant; rather, blue oceans have continuously been created over time. To focus on the red ocean is therefore to accept the key constraining factors of war – limited terrain and the need to beat an enemy to succeed – and to deny the distinctive strength of the business world: the capacity to create new market space that is uncontested.”

After reading all that, I begin to think about the game of Go. The nature of Go is Blue Ocean. Yes, the board is limited in size, i.e. 19 grids times 19 grids, 361 intersections. It is finite and limited but in the course of the game, the players carve out new territories (“market space”) all the time and as part of the strategy, to sometimes exit a particular section of the board and play at another part of the board, the “uncontested” market. Unlike international chess for example, there is no focus of only one market, but many markets can be created and losing in one market does not mean losing the whole thing (think, for example, the Luo Xihe vs. Choi Cheolhan triple ko game).

Going down into a bit of detail of the strategic implementation as stated in the book, it said:

“Formulation principles:

Reconstruct market boundaries
Focus on the big picture, not the numbers
Reach beyond existing demand
Get the strategic sequence right”

The above is so relevant to playing Baduk!

Let me finish the book and see if I can learn more, and hopefully this also improves my baduk skills along with my management skills.

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Filed under Books, Business, Strategy, Weiqi/Go/Baduk

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