Do you remember working on a strategic plan for your recruiting business? Typically, this process involves hours and hours of research and meetings. Did the final document result in differentiating your firm from your competition? Increasing your firm profit?
Recently, I read an interesting book entitled Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee’ Mauborgne. The authors suggest that creating a strategic plan is a Red Ocean Strategy. In this strategy, companies vie against their competitors either on price or differentiation. In the end, though, as more competitors enter the marketplace, a company’s share of the market decreases.
According to the authors of the book, following a Blue Ocean Strategy will lead you to create uncontested market share and make the competition irrelevant. Examples of companies that followed the Blue Ocean Strategy are shared with readers. One example noted was Cirque du Soleil. This company created a new market and left their circus competition behind. They combined key attributes of the circus and the theatre resulting in a new market. Since Cirque du Soleil continues to create new themes and music for their performances, people keep returning to experience their latest creation.
I remember the first time I attended a Cirque du Soleil performance. I was surprised by the cost of a ticket. I was surprised by the actual performance. It wasn’t like any circus I had ever attended! It truly was a combination of a circus and a theatre performance. At the end of the performance, I believed I had received value for what I paid for the ticket.
So, what does this have to do with independent recruiting firms? Well, what if a recruiting firm applied the Blue Ocean Strategy to their firm? What value innovation might result so you make your competition irrelevant? By determining the areas on which you compete with others and how your competitors and you rank from high to low on these factors, you will quickly see that you have been competing on price or differentiation.
The goal of the Blue Ocean Strategy is to create a new value curve that focuses a company’s activities on differentiation and low cost. Kim and Mauborgne believe there are four key questions to challenge an industry’s strategic logic and business model:
- Which of the competing factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?
- Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
- Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
- Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
These questions will generate thought-provoking discussions. More steps are included in the Blue Ocean Strategy. If this strategy intrigues you, I recommend you read the book or go to their website. Even if you decide not to use the Blue Ocean Strategy as one of your firm’s recruiting resources, you will be able to add value to a discussion with a client or potential client by referencing the information during a conversation.