Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blue Ocean distortion

Dr Azly Rahman's academic and intellectual credentials are beyond reproach. He is a Malaysian academic based in an Ivy League campus in the United States. His written pieces are usually ponderous and thought-laden. It takes quite a while to read, let alone consider his pieces which are mini-theses in and, of themselves.

This Malaysiakini piece, entitled Blue Ocean distortion by Dr Azly is, by his standards, quite accessible. More importantly, he slices and dices with such a high level of precision, the recent Blue Ocean speech by the Deputy Prime Minister and, by so doing, completely devastate the central thrust of that speech.

It's a lazy, hazy Sunday. I am not mentally nimble enough to even dare to summarise Dr Azly's analysis. So, I'm taking the trite route of reproducing his piece in Malaysiakini for your edification. As I said, it is a devastating response to you-know-who's speech:

"... Because blue and red oceans have always coexisted however, practical reality demands that companies succeed in both oceans and master the strategies for both. But because companies already understand how to compete in red oceans, what they need to learn is how to make the competition irrelevant."

- Kim and Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy, pg. 190

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

- Mahathma Gandhi

blue ocean strategyLeaders are fond of discussing management concepts and theories of social change and next, apply them to political paradigms.

They do this within the framework of Structural-Functionalism in which society is seen as a stable entity such as in the case of ‘power transfers’ and the ‘transitions of hegemony’.

Oftentimes political leaders and their opinion leaders, technocrats, intelligentsia, speech-writers, perception managers, and other members of the regime will embrace new ideas to help fine-tune the political economic structure of the old regime and help sustain the base and superstructure of the power arrangements.

These days, a popular concept of change in Malaysia and Asia perhaps is the blue ocean strategy in which the idea of cooperation takes over competition, and that novel opportunities are to be created to contribute to an environment in a future that promises more peaceful coexistence between producers and consumers, and providers and clients.

This idea is taken from the work of W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, published in 2006 by The Harvard Business School Press.

alliance malaya perikatan 1950 210408 01In a yet to be charted territory of the blue ocean, competition is said to be irrelevant.

Innovative companies thrive without having to compete for saturated markets. ‘Red oceans’ of chaos and competition is abandoned for ‘blue oceans’ of conflict resolution and collaboration, as this new idea goes.

Again, limited findings from the study of a few business entities is used as a model to be applied to public service.

Is Malaysia a blue ocean?

To answer this one must consider what state she is currently in.

Malaysia is wading through the (dark and dismal) River Styx in which her McCarthyism is keeping dissenting voices in jail, hunting down students and faculty, arresting peaceful protesters, battling with new media, making its politics of race and religion is evolve into a Balkan and a Bosnia.

hindraf british petition rally 251107 arrested truckThe postmodern condition of this open sky neo-capitalistic country is debilitating and its citizen are in utter confusion of where the national leaders are bringing them to, at time when the central and ethnic-based leadership is rotting to its core, creating a hideous form of a human being infected with a Human Papilliomavirus.

Especially at the time of the December party elections the level of corruption within the ruling parties is at a critical stage that even those vying for top leadership have admitted that one needs many millions of ringgit to get elected.

This is happening at a time when the poor of all races are struggling to survive by the day, maintaining a roof over their head, and making sure that their children have food on the table.

Malaysians are in a bipolar condition in a unipolar form of governance in which there is the belief that only race-based politics is the one best system.

Dissenting views are to be crushed and destroyed by any means necessary, and the hegemony of the previous regime need to be maintained either through force or false consciousness inflicted upon the masses.

The red ocean of Malaysian politics

Malaysians are charting into an unknown territory brought about by the yellow wave of the recent March 8 revolution and the red Makkal Sakthi cries of repression, anger, and frustration.

There is also the ever ‘green’ ideology of Islamic-based parties and the light blue radical multiculturalism of PKR adding to the Kandinsky and Jackson-Pollock type-of political landscape painting of this country's future.

mahkota cheras toll demo 181206 riot policeThere is chaos and complexity in the pattern of political scenario, unlike the ‘blue ocean’ strategy feel-good ideology embraced by Barisan Nasional leaders who probably have not done an internal and external reading an critical analysis of what actually blue ocean strategy means in which the country is now trying to choose between depression and the deep blue sea.

In short, Malaysia is in a bloody red ocean that has been plagued with cut-throat shark-eat-shark world of racial politics.

In all these, Malaysians are in need of a leader that will not only embrace all these colors of change and turn them into a ‘rainbow coalition’.

Use that as a symbol to navigate through the blue ocean to arrive at a destiny that will promise a land of opportunities for all, less annoyance of race and religious politics, and onwards to march of participatory democracy and further on towards the reconstruction of a republic of virtue grounded in ethics of philosophical, economic, and political sustainability.

Replace paradigm and people

The theme in the book Blue Ocean Strategy, is hope for the creation of a future of peace and prosperity.

In Malaysia, who has the licence to give that hope? Who has the ability to be the captain of new consciousness and steer away from a Vision 2020 that has become a Myopia of 2012 as Malaysia's await the next General Election?

Is the present government, ailing with social cancer that started from the head and now heading to the soul, able to help create a blue ocean?

raja petra pkr sedition court 061008 supportersCan it do so with the happenings in the Judiciary, Executive, and Legislative?

This is a question Malaysians have to answer fast, while "hitting the ground running" as an American saying goes.

Paradigms and people need to be replaced. Democrats in America cannot rehire 'Bush-men of Texas' to navigate through the American Kalahari desert of Casino Capitalism in order to enter a new world of the unknown.

Can Malaysians do that too -- continue en masse supporting a regime that has betrayed its people?

Can Malaysians afford another 50 years of race-based politics albeit fine-tuned?

malaysia people rakyatMaking incremental changes are like fixing a machine that has interchangeable parts whereas that machine need to be reassembled or disposed in a junkyard of history together with its operators and owner of the means of economic and ideological production.

New games need brand new players.

In a game of strategies played in the deep blue sea, we need a clear blue sky above us with a rainbow right above so that we may learn to think elegantly like dolphins - rather than think brutishly like piranhas that will turn the ocean bloodier.


Mberenis said...

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Loans, Grants, and Assistance for Economic Hardships

What do you think???

walla said...

Najib spoke on blue-ocean strategy two years ago. He used it to illustrate his understanding of the strategy (see 53.)in the following:

He said:

'The Blue Ocean Strategy, its opposite being red ocean, accelerates our mind to innovate, to be creative and to think ahead in exploring new ways of doing business that would rise above competition'.

The entire speech, in fact, was about being able to compete more in the same space, not about being able to collaborate more.

The justification for that stand was about what needs to be acquired more relative to others.

It was about relative measures. The competitors were seen within, not without.

From the Malaysian context and the history of her evolution, that's about maintaining red oceans, not about creating scenic blue spots in them, let alone about creating entire blue oceans.

So how can one embrace blue ocean strategies when one is using red ocean mindsets?

The malay psyche is riddled with fear. Even the solutions posed to take the community out of it spring back to maintaining jus soli status quo. The tragic thing is that the world has moved on. Rallying the herd but surrounding them with walls of the mind won't enable them to benefit from anything or coexist with greater rapport with others. It will only create some artificial exclusiveness that is the only feature of red oceans while the whole blue ocean of truth and achievements lie beyond them.

Drop the fear, embrace change, or face extinction. That's what real leaders should say.


de minimis said...


Your intellectual reach is as scary as ever. All I can say is, spot on, bro. Spot on analysis.

Anonymous said...

De minimis,

I am always awed whenever I visit your blog for I feel I am walking in the corridors lined by intellectual 'giants' like you and walla.

Being a Dr.Azly Rahman fan myself, I echo your sentiments with regards to his take on Blue Ocean Distortion.

Having said that, I applaud walla's most incisive take on the current malaise in our country.


chapchai said...

Walla says the Malay psyche is riddled with fear. Is it fear or lack of confidence? It would appear those Malays who support this ketuanan melayu nonsense and NEP lack confidence. Reminds me of a child who uses a bicycle with 2 side wheels for balance, but this child over time will have the confidence to get rid of the side wheels. Is it time for these Malays to get rid of their "side wheels"?