Newsletter September 2010
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Everybody is talking about the book Blue Ocean. We have asked Bruce MacMillan, President and CEO of MPI, to share his experience on how he has applied the principles of Blue Ocean Strategy to transform his organisation.

Swantegy: Which ideas have you taken from reading Blue Ocean Strategy?

Bruce: The most important takeaway for me is to constantly anticipate where the open space is forming OUTSIDE your organization. Every time business or competitive conditions change your organization's place in the business landscape changes as well. Determine where that space is going to crystallize and then design your value-innovation accordingly. It is a constant process that is even more crucial with the incredible pace and depth of change we see right now. With all the disruption, incredible open spaces are being created.

Swantegy: Which values have you abandoned and/or reduced? Which new ones have you introduced?

Bruce: We had to make some decisions about the experience and competency level we were targeting and design educational experiences accordingly. With colleges and universities providing more pervasive entry-level content, we clearly saw the opportunity as being at the executive-level. That meant we had to discontinue a long-serving entry-level program. that was becoming less relevant and profitable.

Swantegy: Which new territories have you explored?

Bruce: Our industry has a plethora of certificated skill programs but no integrated, multi-leveled knowledge plan that professionals can migrate their way along the path according to their level of desired level of competency. So we introduced one into the market which no one else had and it got traction immediately.

Swantegy: Based on Blue Ocean Theory, which concrete changes have you brought to MPI and which are the results?

Bruce: We redefined some of the key cultural elements that defined our organization. Typically, associations have one set of strict, centrally-controlled rules that everyone has to abide by. As a global organization in over 70 countries it was impossible to do that and be member-centric. So we had to de-centralize our span of control and encourage local rules and local performance measures. The result was an explosion of creativity and innovation that resulted in increases local memberships.

Swantegy: In the face of the economic uncertainly how could a Blue Ocean approach help corporations?

Bruce: There is so much economic and social disruption taking place that has the effect of destroying long-established business models, the opportunities for new value-innovation are mind-boggling. Look at traditional print advertising: revenues are off 48%. On-line video advertising revenues are up. Look at music retail shop revenues: all but obliterated. iTunes has now downloaded over five billion tracks at $0.99 US each. For every red ocean casualty, there is a blue ocean opportunity. Draw the value innovation curve that aligns with the vacated space and your core competency. With air transportation costs increasing, 3G networks coming on-line at the same time as smart phone prices declining, there is a huge opportunity for the delivery of mobile, on-demand educational content.

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