Your company can create a new market. Here is the command you need for this.
1. Recruit participants from different departments of the company
This should include representatives of all functional and organizational units that play a key role in bringing a new offer to the market.
In a typical corporate structure, the blue ocean team includes representatives from the personnel department, the department of information technology, the marketing, financial and production departments, the research and development department, the sales department, as well as specialists working directly with customers (for example, employees of the call center or trading floor).
The optimal team size is 10-15 people. The lower limit will allow you to ensure the representation of all the main functional units and at the same time give employees the opportunity to independently realize the need for change and make their contribution. The upper limit is needed so that the process is manageable, and the team is flexible and efficient.
Often, top managers are reluctant to include marketing specialists, economists, and HR representatives in the team, considering their strategic vision limited.
However, this position is unacceptable. Have you heard the phrase “Finance is more important than strategy”? Of course, we heard. Over the years, people have been telling us how their efforts to innovate have come to naught because financial department employees were inclined to support only what they knew and what they could quantify, not what was possible. So it is not surprising that such people are worried about the prospect of obtaining a similar result in the process of transition to the blue ocean.
Our research over the past ten years suggests the opposite: if representatives of the financial department were included in the team and they, like the rest of the team, took part in the process at all its stages, then the decision about the need for a strategic shift and transition to the blue ocean became their own.
It is no secret that employees of the financial department are extremely tight-minded when they are offered to allocate funds to solve strategic problems that they do not understand. Like all of us, they do not like to invest in ideas that are foreign to them. The finance department will become your ally and true strategic partner in making investment decisions if you include his representative in the team from the very beginning. In addition, this step will give all participants in the process the opportunity to learn and develop.
And although the team needs to be formed from representatives of different departments of the company, one should not forget that all employees selected in the team should be interested in this transition and be directly related to the direction of the business or product that you intend to transfer from the red ocean to the blue.
This is very important, since only in this case each of them will represent the blue ocean team in their units.
Let's look at the experience of a currency exchange company. Prior to the transition to the blue ocean, the companies were convinced that one of its competitive advantages over large banks was managers working with large clients. As expected, the managers themselves agreed with this, which confirmed their status in the company. However, in the process of transition to the blue ocean, the team revealed the unexpected: clients neglected personnel managers and did not like to spend time talking with them. They believed that they were looking for excuses and smoothing out the negative in working with the company.
If the customer service managers were not part of the team, they would not have received this feedback from the customers, which means they would have insisted that the conclusions are incorrect, that the team members do not know what they are talking about, and that the work managers with large customers - this is exactly what distinguishes the company from others. But over and over they heard customers repeat the same thing, and could not deny the obvious.
2. Pay attention to the geography of the company
Another example. In companies whose divisions are scattered all over the world, one can often hear the statement: “We have a special region.” In one of the companies, where almost any global initiative skidded at the implementation stage, branch managers spoke about the ideas of the main office like this: "Dumb on the ground, clever in the center." It is only natural that the "boobies" were proud to sabotage the initiatives of the head office.
A similar situation can be prevented or corrected by including representatives of the main geographical regions in the blue ocean team. This step allows people to feel that they are valued and that their colleagues do not consider them stupid performers who have to be commanded.
As a rule, the first thing that happens in such international teams is that representatives of different regions begin to grumble that everything is different in their region and that not a single new “global” strategy will work for them. Try in this case to answer: “If this is true, then the process of transition to the blue ocean will reveal this, and we will abandon the task of creating it on a global scale.” The clarity of this statement demonstrates openness, which means that it contributes to greater involvement of participants.
In the process, team members usually come to the conclusion that if a company is able to identify a number of common key problems expressed by customers and target non-customers around the world, then people will willingly abandon most of the special regional requirements. This strengthens the interest and enthusiasm for the process.
By the way, in multinational corporations with high geographical diversification, it is necessary to create several teams.
3. Find the skeptics
Yes, you will have to include one or perhaps two well-known skeptics in the team. At the same time, skeptics should remain in the minority so that they cannot dominate the dynamics of the team’s behavior and undermine its positive energy.
Why are they needed in a team?
First, the presence of a “devil advocate” builds confidence in the process and in the conclusions reached by the team. His participation in the process suggests that you are confident in the need for a transition and that the team is able to dispel the doubts and concerns of skeptics.
Secondly, the invitation of skeptics to the team demonstrates that you intend to carefully study any ideas that cast doubt on the current state of things, because you want to make sure that all possible negative aspects will be analyzed and subsequently an unexpected blow will not be dealt from this side.
And finally, when skeptics take part in the process and independently come to the conclusion that the current strategy of the company is not able to stir up the market, as a rule, they stop complaining. Once you manage to convince the skeptics, the momentum for change will become even stronger.
4. Think about motivation for team members
Be prepared for the fact that, on the one hand, your employees will be glad that you included them in the team, but on the other, they will be anxious, as this means that they will have to do additional work. On average, team members devote about 10% of their working time during the week to the Blue Ocean initiative, and up to 20–25% of their working time during peak periods. But, as they say, without costs there is no result. Fortunately, the result will exceed costs.
Working in a team of the blue ocean, employees interact with management, gain experience, communicate with representatives of different departments and form (in many cases for the first time) a general idea of the company and its business environment, which is valuable in itself. This activity changes the scale of their main work, shifting the focus from everyday tasks to strategy.
Team members learn to ask how to create innovative value, what exactly increases the costs of the company, without adding value to its products or services (such as, for example, the position of manager for working with large clients in a currency exchange company - by the way, this position was eventually abolished ), which slightly increases costs, but at the same time provides a jump in value, who are among the non-customers of the industry and how to turn them into customers.
Work in a team changes all its members, makes them more valuable to the company and to themselves. Discuss these benefits in advance with candidates. They will highly appreciate the fact that the extra load will pay off by acquiring new skills, building sustainable relationships with other team members and the emergence of new ideas.
5. Assign an influential team leader
Position is not the main thing, and yet the team leader should occupy a higher position in the corporate hierarchy than the rest of its members. In this case, the team will be easier to take the leader. The influence that a strong leader is capable of exerting both on the behavior of the team and on the company as a whole will help to provide support for the initiative by many employees.
It is assumed that the leader should be the main contact person in the team, direct the work of its members, inspire them, help them navigate the structure of the company and provide all the necessary information. He must also anticipate problems that may limit the team's ability to perform tasks, and be able to prevent their occurrence.
As a rule, it is customary for companies to delegate most of this work to ordinary employees, but we strongly recommend not to do this for a number of reasons.
Firstly, when the team leader is directly involved in solving such problems, it says that the initiative that the team is working on is very important, and a frivolous attitude is unacceptable.
Secondly, in this way the leader demonstrates respect for the team members, which fuels their enthusiasm and closes loopholes for all kinds of delays. Agree that it is much easier for an ordinary team member than the leader to say: “We will answer you soon”, and give the necessary answers in three weeks, thereby undermining the process.
6. Consider engaging a consultant
Does the company work poorly? Is she overly bureaucratic? Is she so mired in intrigue that any action is akin to moving around a minefield? Large and long-standing companies may well become just that. The same can be said of government agencies.
In this case, in addition to forming a team and choosing a suitable leader, you need to think about a consultant. This is especially important for those structures where for a long time they adhere to the same working methods or where a stable institutional culture has formed.
A consultant will help you detect problems before they become insoluble. A consultant is the person in the company who is always up to date, well versed in what is happening, knows who am among the major players, and who is blocking development.
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