09 December 2005

Zero Sum vs. Blue Ocean

"Value innovation is about making the competition irrelevant by creating uncontested market space. We argue that beating the competition within the confines of the existing industry is not the way to create profitable growth."

That quote is from Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne's Blue Ocean Strategy, an insightful book aimed at differentiating growth strategies ("blue ocean") from "survival strategies" (red ocean.) [Note: Topic mentioned in an earlier Jenius post.]

The Jenius has been one of too few voices pointing out how Puerto Ricans act overwhelmingly often as if the world were singularly a zero sum game. The reason is that these same Puerto Ricans see the Island as the whole world. (Island mentality, anyone?) In a zero sum game, your win is My loss and never the twain shall change. So if Puerto Rico is "the whole world" and you only win if someone else loses, then yes, you do tend to act in "red ocean" fashion: competitive, paranoid, looking for shortcuts and short-term gain.

But that doesn't lead to long-term growth. Put simply, the way to major growth is not to fight over pieces of the same pie, but to go out and create new and bigger pies.

Of course, huddling at the trough to fight like pigs seems easier than to seek out new sources of sustenance. After all, creating is just so much harder than hustling...and less likely to pay off, right?

Right. It is harder to create than to hustle, it is harder to develop a bigger pie than it is to scrabble against other hustlers. All that creating takes time and effort, often without pay or reward, whereas hustling at least pays the bills. Right?

Right. Hustle to pay the bills. Now there's a life worth living. Right?

Wrong. You know it's wrong. You know that hustling like a pig or a rat or a weasel is not a life worth living, it's merely a life worth enduring. Yes, creating a new pie, a new market, is a very difficult task. It isn't for everybody. But you have to choose whether you'll spend your time and energy and talent in trying to survive against the hordes or spending those valuable assets in seeking a new world.

You could fail. But then again, even succeeding at the current trough has a strong element of failure in it, for you've simply outlasted, instead of being outstanding.

Zero Sum or Blue Ocean? Choose.

The Jenius Has Spoken.