Blue Ocean Shift – Merry Korn, CEO of Pearl Interactive Network, Inc. Appreciated Concept, Application and Timing!

Categories: Company news, Job and Career Tips, Success story


Reviewed by Merry Korn, President and CEO, Pearl Interactive Network Inc

BLUE OCEAN SHIFT is the follow-up to Blue Ocean Strategy, the global bestseller by professors Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. In their seminal work from 2005, the authors argued that lasting success comes not from battling in ‘red oceans’ of cut-throat competition, but from creating ‘blue oceans’ of untapped market space.

Blue Ocean Strategy was a huge inspiration to me. It had a seismic impact on the way I positioned our firm, Pearl Interactive Network, which went on to become a multi-million dollar business.

Coming 12 years after their first book, Blue Ocean Shift is bound to stir much excitement among fans of Blue Ocean Strategy. I’m delighted to say that it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I loved it!

Before I say more on that, let me explain why Blue Ocean Strategy was so important to the success of our company, and why its follow-up comes at just the right time.

Blue Ocean Strategy shifted our perspective

Pearl Interactive Network, Inc. was founded in 2004. We are a for-profit social enterprise that delivers program management and staffing that prioritizes a niche workforce of skilled and talented veterans, disabled veterans, military spouses and people with disabilities. Today, 90% of our revenues are through procurement of large contracts that deliver program management and contact center staff to the federal government. We have over $11 million in  annual revenues, and during our peak hiring periods, we employ over 500 associates.

Blue Ocean Strategy was highly influential in our initial success. Before reading the book, I had marketed Pearl Interactive Network as a company that gave employment to people with disabilities. At the time, it seemed like a compelling and valuable proposition for the commercial contact center market. But, to my dismay, few businesses were interested in our workforce.

After reading Blue Ocean Strategy, I shifted our focus to the federal market and positioned our firm as a woman-owned small business providing a valuable niche workforce. Our shift to the federal marketplace was highly effective and forever changed the landscape of our firm. On entering this market, we were the only woman-owned federal contractor that had expertise in large-scale, nationwide staffing that prioritized disabled veterans, veterans and military spouses. It proved to be a highly successful strategic move.

Blue Ocean Shift has come at just the right time

Blue ocean strategy helped Pearl Interactive Network Inc. get where we are today. But we’ve come to realize that the approach would take us only so far help in helping us realize our goal of three-fold growth within the next three-to-four years.  Since we entered the federal market 12 years ago, our blue ocean has gradually become red and highly competitive.

So it is very timely that the publishers of BLUE OCEAN SHIFT sent me an advance copy of the book, just as my team and I are looking for new blue oceans of opportunity and growth.

Blue Ocean Shift begins where Blue Ocean Strategy left off. It’s a highly practical follow-up to the first book and packed with all-new research and examples. The book contains several excellent case studies ranging from Kimberly Clark Brazil, a consumer goods company, to Citizen M, who brought to market affordable luxury hotels. It also includes a fascinating account of how the government of Malaysia created a national blue ocean shift by applying the concepts and ideas laid out in the book.

The book’s five-step process shows how to apply blue ocean tools and frameworks to create new markets. The step-by-step guide will be indispensable to teams and organizations looking to seize new growth while minimizing risk. It also includes chapters on constructing the right blue ocean team, and how to achieve creativity and team buy-in.

Kim and Mauborgne incorporate some important insights from human psychology. They show that, while creating a blue ocean shift is a systematic process, organisations must also bring their people along with them by winning their confidence and cooperation. In Blue Ocean Shift, Kim and Mauborgne show us how.

I am again inspired and am now actively working on a new Blue Ocean  strategy for a Supportive Care and Tele-Health Remote Monitoring Service designed with the intent of creating a higher quality of life, alleviating social isolation and mitigating costs associated with unnecessary inpatient and, nursing home and emergency admissions for older adults wanting to stay at home.


The battle-tested lessons shared throughout the book will be invaluable in helping our team create new blue oceans of growth and opportunity. I’ve no doubt Blue Ocean Shift will be critical reading for other leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs alike.