The Strategy Canvas

Differentiate yourself from customers and identify 'blue ocean opportunities' by identifying factors of competiton with the strategy canvas tool.

This tool was popularised in the book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.

By determining what factors of competition are for your product or industry, you can help to identify how you can be different and establish a competitive advantage.

When Nintendo released the Wii to compete with PS4 and Xbox, they didn’t focus on being a best-of-breed videogame console. They focused on bringing non-core gamers back to gaming by making it all about feeling. Unlike its competitors, the Wii is cheap, has no Hard Disk, no DVD, no Dolby 5.1, weak connectivity, comparatively low processor speed, but it blew minds away with its innovative motion control stick when it came out.

Source: Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business Review

Another example of the Strategy Canvas in action can be found in Cirque du Soleil, the modern circus, below. As you can see, they got rid of star performers, animal shows and aisle concessions in favour of theme, refined environment and artistic music and dance to compete with traditional circuses. They were able to increase their price because they were appealing to adult audiences, instead of families with children.

Source: Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business Review

How can you be different?

Answer the following questions:

  1. What are the factors of competition for your product or service?
    For example, in the video-game example above, factors included price, connectivity and processor speed.
  2. Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
    These factors refer to products and services that companies may have over-designed in order to beat the competition. For example, Nintendo Wii had a lower processor speed than its competitors.
  3. Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?
    For example, Nintendo Wii got rid of connectivity, Dolby 5.1 sound and a hard disk.
  4. Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
    These are the factors that bring value to customers but until now have been ignored and/or compromised by the industry. For example, Nintendo Wii took motion control to the next level.
  5. Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
    These are the factors that must be discovered to provide the buyer with new sources of customer value.

You might want to map out your answers in a quadrant, per the below.