Creative employment: Blue ocean strategy

by Edward Henkler on August 26, 2014

Creative employment options should include a blue ocean element.  In “Blue Ocean Strategy”, the authors tell us “Don’t Compete with Rivals – Make Them Irrelevant.”  They include many examples throughout the book and I think the NetJets example below is the easiest to understand without reading the entire book.  The authors, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, identified two alternatives for executive air travel.  Private jets were the ultimate option but were more expensive than many companies could afford.  First- and business-class travel was the other alternative but wasn’t always sufficiently flexible.  NetJets identified the best features of each alternative, including options such as relatively low cost and ease/speed of travel.  Selectively incorporating the best features, NetJets created a blue ocean strategy by selling “timeshares” of a corporate jet to their customers. Blue Ocean Strategy - NetJets If you’re in a job search or even just actively managing your career while employed, how can you find your blue ocean?  Companies are outsourcing more and more of their activities and employment for life with one company will be the rarest of outcomes.  Kim and Mauborgne would tell you to identify two predominant alternatives first.  Perhaps that could be traditional employment with relatively high pay and benefits, stability, steady career progression, etc.  Another obvious choice is the entrepreneurial world, featuring high risk and reward, frequent failure, little or no structure, etc.  Now you should look at what’s most positive and negative and how it varies between employer and employee.  Employers want to reduce expenses, especially long term commitments such as retiree benefits, and they also want to reduce unplanned turnover.  Employees may want high compensation and relative stability.  Perhaps an employee can identify a few part time jobs that equal an employment portfolio.  Perhaps the part time jobs are seasonal so it’s a full time job but only part of a year but then you switch to a complementary seasonal job.  Perhaps you have 2-3 jobs @ 15-20 hours/week that pay well but aren’t appropriate for 40 hours/week.  Note that I’m not suggesting your work days get any longer than they were before, just that you might have more than one employer. Creative employment is about identifying your competition and the alternatives, then finding the blue ocean value curve.  Lifetime employment may be dead but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find equal or better opportunities.

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