Applying Blue Ocean Strategy and winning Gold

Home » Blog » Applying Blue Ocean Strategy and winning Gold

Posted On : 2015-12-18 / BY : / IN Blog, Uncategorized


 Mina Boström Nakicenovic has, literally, found a winning concept in her swimming career after she participated in an education held by Innovation360 Group, in business model innovation – a part of the framework the Innovation360 Group Licensed Practitioners  are trained in when they are accredited to the Innovation360 Group and InnoSurveyTM

This blog post is about how Mina applied her learning from the education: blue ocean strategy, finding the “sweet spot”, SWOT-analysis, Osterwalders business model, and the Lean Startup concept (minimum viable effort).

Mina competed and won at the Swedish swimming championships received 4 medals (2 gold and 2 silver) in December 2015.

So how did you do it?

  • I applied the methods I learned about business model innovation: analysing the market and defined my blue ocean, which resulted in success!

Blue Ocean Strategy created by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne is a strategic mind-set that charts a bold new path to winning the future. It challenges the tenets of competitive strategy and calls for a shift in focus from competing to creating new market space and hence making the competition irrelevant.

It describes how companies traditionally work in “red ocean” conditions, where businesses viciously fight against each other for a share of the marketplace. Focusing on what other competitors do and a business model built on increasing market shares in an already competitive market makes the ocean “red” of bloody competition.

Instead, according to the blue ocean strategy, organizations should work methodologically with innovations to find profitable uncontested market space thus making the competition irrelevant.

To discover an elusive blue ocean, Kim and Mauborgne argue that businesses and entrepreneurs should consider what the authors call the “Four Actions Framework. The framework poses four key questions:

  • Raise: What factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
  • Eliminate: Which factors that the industry has long competed on should be eliminated?
  • Reduce: Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
  • Create: Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?

By answering the above questions – but replacing the word “industry´s standard” with competitors (in this case other swimmers) Mina found a winning concept.

By applying Blue Ocean Strategy you can be able to find a very profitable “sweet spot” of new market space. The strategic sweet spot of a company is where it meets customers’ needs in 
a way that rivals can’t, given the context in which it competes.

The strategic sweet spot. Source: Can you say what your strategy is? (HBR , David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad)


Applying Blue Ocean Strategy

To begin with she analyzed the masters swimming competition’s market and the competitors, according to the result lists from the previous years.

“By applying Blue Ocean Strategy I found my “Sweet Spot” – several heats that are “rare” among competitors, for example 200 m breaststroke.”

“The best former-swimmers use to swim short distances and usually freestyle technique because it is the easiest for them and they get medals anyway.  On the other side, I tried to define my main value proposition, according to the Osterwalder’s Business Model. “

Osterwalder business models and canvas are one of many successful methods and canvases used in strategy workshops run by Innovation 360 Group. Also our Master Classes in Strategy for Licensed Practitioners contains these elements.

Mina was a former swimmer and although I’m best at breaststroke, there are currently three very good breaststroke swimmers in my age group at the “market”, so she knew that she’ll end up at the fourth place in breaststroke (which actually really happened).

But, as a former swimmer she could also swim other techniques, which is not the case with the swimmers that “recently” have entered the swimming market – they swim only freestyle. So she concluded that backstroke was her “main value proposition”.

Mina: “Since it wasn’t realistic for me to swim 200 meters butterfly as I was not in top form. “

Next step in her method was to use the very well-known SWOT analysis.

She analysed her weaknesses in order to define what was most important for her to be successful in the backstroke heats.

Mina: “My main weakness was a backstroke turn – if I do it wrongly I’ll get disqualified!

So I concentrated more on practicing the turns then on training hard, because I knew that my time was “good enough” for a medal, if I don’t get disqualified. I practiced according to the Lean Startup concept, “minimum viable effort”, and trained just enough to be sure that I’ll do my turns properly.”

Her market analysis and business strategy so to say became very successful!

“But I know that the market is changing and the Sweet Spot is moving and shrinking all the time, so I’ll conduct a new market analysis in order to find a new strategy for the next competition!”

And that is actually the message we address to all companies out there: you need to continuously work methodically and innovate your business models in order to find new sweet spots and blue oceans – making the competition less relevant.


We at Innovation 360 Group congratulate Minas strategy: applying her learning in  strategy and business models as a literally winning concept. Mina won gold – swimming in her “blue ocean”


Curious on our Licensed Practitioner program and how we combine InnoSurveyTM   with the methods and models Mina used? Read more!