By Dean Whittaker

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne is subtitled, How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. The primary premise of the book is that one is better off innovating rather than competing. By using their value curve, a company can deduce what the client values and emphasize those elements of the product/service the client holds in highest esteem while reducing those that are less important to them. The key to a blue ocean strategy is innovation — creating the new and applying it to the market place. In addition, it is about maximizing the value the client receives by creating a high-value proposition through higher quality and lower cost.

One of Whittaker Associates best competitive advantages is our ability to create and innovate, which is why in the face of competition, we put the Blue Ocean Strategy to the test. Our efforts resulted in a new approach for targeting high-impact companies. This new process allows us to offer this dynamic database of fast-growing companies for 80% less than other firms, including the cost of data. We’re also using the most current data as data from the last couple years has become irrelevant with the rapid fluctuations of the economy. The net result is a high-value proposition for our client with better quality at a much lower cost. By using the Blue Ocean Strategy, we’ve been able to innovate and develop new technology to differentiate ourselves from firms imitating our old processes.

What if states, regions, and communities did the same? What would it take to create a Blue Ocean Strategy for a geographic place? Let’s first look at the issue of place. Does place matter in our digital, connected, innovation-driven, global world? Yes, I think it does, and here’s why. Place matters because people matter. People make the biggest difference from place to place. The skills they possess, the micro culture they support, and the world view they hold all contribute to the value proposition offered by a place. Granted, geographic location has cost advantages, but if cost were the only factor there would be no New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Tokyo, London, Rome, or Paris. Among the people, it is their relationships with each other that propel a local economy. How supportive are they of each other, and how frequently do they ask What’s in it for us rather than What’s in it for me? How much do they focus on the common good by pooling resources to advance their place?

So as we approach the end of 2009, I want to wish our clients, partners, and friends a prosperous 2010. Share what you have, and remember, we are all in this together for the common good.