1. Select the In-House BOS team

A small well-trained team will have the best chance of success. A project team of two to four people is recommended, depending on the size of the organization. The chosen project team members need to be committed full time, and they need to report directly to the CEO, as illustrated in Exhibit 1. Any layer in between the CEO and the blue ocean shift (BOS) team indicates a lack of CEO commitment.

This point is so important that the project should not proceed if the CEO does not wish to be involved in this way. The BOS project team members should have a proven track record of excellent presentation and communication skills, flair for innovation, ability to complete, knowledge of both the organization and the organization’s customers, and the ability to bring others on board.

EXHIBIT 1 The BOS team’s Reporting Lines

The BOS project team should be a balanced mix of oracles and young guns. Oracles are those grey-haired individuals whom you visit if you want to find out about what has happened in the organization in the past. Young guns are your young, fearless, and precocious leaders of the future, who are not afraid to venture into the unknown.

All departments and service teams should appoint a person, as the team BOS coordinator, who is sufficiently knowledgeable about their operation to provide information and feedback to liaise with the BOS team. Ford Motors had a successful launch of the Taurus because 17 different departments were involved including legal and insurances companies advising on design features to minimise collision repair costs. If you are an organization over 250 FTEs you should have representatives from:

HR o Yes   o No
Training o Yes   o No
Marketing o Yes   o No
Finance o Yes   o No
IT o Yes   o No
Public relations o Yes   o No
R&D o Yes   o No
Sales o Yes   o No
Call centre o Yes   o No
Store floor o Yes   o No
Customers who are fans of the organization o Yes   o No


The interested stakeholders consist of those who can add a useful perspective to the project team, such as some members of the board, union representatives, some key supplier representatives.

Do not include members of the senior management team on the BOS team, as they will be unable to meet the time commitment required.

The external BOS facilitator /mentor should help the senior management team pick a team. Research into personnel records is recommended, as many talented in-house staff are found in obscure places, and some may already have some BOS experience. The BOS facilitator is looking for staff members who have a proven track record of excellent presentation and communication skills, a flair for innovation, the ability to complete what they start, knowledge of both the organization and sector, the aptitude to bring others on board, and the ability to be cheerful under pressure.

The checklists and questionnaire in the Appendix will help with the selection process. It is advisable to run some tests to assess the potential compatibility of prospective team members, such as personality and thinking preference, as it is likely they have never worked together on a large project before. The findings from these tests will help the BOS team members understand how to work better with each other as well as the Human Resources team, who are fully conversant with the effectiveness of the tests.

2. Full-Time Commitment of the BOS Project Team

The BOS facilitator needs to convince management that the BOS team staff members are required to be committed full time. A project office needs to be set up, and the BOS team moved in to it. They move their desk photos as well, because their second-in-command will now move into their vacated office and cover their duties. It is a myth that this project can be handled while continuing with other duties. If project staff members are still intending to start and finish the day at their workplace desk, this project should be terminated.

3. The BOS Facilitator Helps Train the BOS Project Team

The BOS facilitator will need to establish the knowledge gaps and set up training and some team-building exercises for the BOS team. If the team members do not know each other the BOS facilitator might organize a weekend team-building excursion.

Running good workshops is an acquired skill, and the BOS team should receive specific training in this area.

The training exercises might include:

  • Preparing a presentation to sell an idea through the audiences’ emotional drivers.
  • Research exercises to find the last five reports done internally on performance measurement issues or articles and white papers, written on the topic in major journals and respected websites.
  • A comprehensive understanding of the BOS book.
  • How to pass on knowledge using better-practice teaching techniques.
  • How to facilitate workshops which the BOS Project Team will be running.
  • How to deliver informative presentations.
  • Better-practice communication techniques.
  • Maintaining a vibrant project team home page on the intranet.

4. Research for the BOS team (Key Reference Books & Websites)

The following books and templates are required reading for all BOS team members.

  • Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Shift (Hachette Books, 2017)
  • Elizabeth Haas Edersheim, The Definitive Drucker: Challenges for Tomorrow’s Executives—Final Advice from the Father of Modern Management (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006). This book should be on the read list for any project leader. The reader will better understand the significance of abandonment after reading this book.
  • John Kotter, Leading Change, (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012). A very highly rated book and a major influence in leading and selling change.
  • Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, The Three Laws of Performance (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011).
  • Tom Peters, Thriving on Chaos – Handbook for a Management Revolution, (Harper Perennial 1988).
  • Purchase the Blue Ocean Shift Suite and download the tools from blueoceanshift.com/Exercise/Templates.

5. Establish a Just-Do-It Culture and Process

“Getting it right the first time” is a rare achievement. The senior management team and BOS project team need to ensure that the project has a “just-do-it” culture, not one in which every step and measure is debated as part of an intellectual exercise.

With this “just-do-it” culture comes a belief that we can do it; we do not have to rely on external experts to run the project.

Establishing your winning BOSs is not complex, and the process should be carried out in-house, provided the team has the assistance of an experienced BOS facilitator/mentor. The BOS facilitator’s role is principally that of a mentor to the project team and, thus, the facilitator should keep a low profile at team presentations.

Applications such as SharePoint Team Services enable the BOS team to set up intranet pages that everyone with an interest in winning BOS can access:

  • Relevant memos and articles (programmed with expiration dates so only current and important pronouncements are available)
  • Forums to discuss issues
  • BOS documentation that requires collaborative input

To find out how to surmount these barriers purchase David Parmenter’s working guide which is on sale at USD 29.90 and comes with 15 electronic templates.

A Look inside the Innovation working guide:

A perfect storm.. 2

Understanding Gemba Kaizen Innovation. 3

  • Housekeeping. 3
  • Waste elimination. 5
  • Visual management 7
  • Adopting winning methods 7

Blue Ocean Innovation. 8

The five-step Blue Ocean Shift Model 9

  • Step 1: Get started. 9
  • Step 2: Understand Where You Are Now.. 18
  • Step 3: Imagine where you could be. 22
  • Step 4: Find how you get there. 24
  • Step 5: Choose and make the blue ocean move. 28

Selling and Leading Change. 31

  • Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan. 31
  • Harry Mills’ Self Persuasion. 32
  • John Kotter’s Leading Change. 32
  • Selling A BOS Project to the Senior Management Team.. 33
  • Learn to Sell by Using the Emotional Drivers of the Buyer 34
  • The Elevator Speech. 34
  • Deliver a Compelling Burning Platform Presentation. 35

Wisdom from the great management thinkers. 37

  • Peter Drucker’s Lessons on Innovation. 38
  • Jim Collins’s Lessons for Innovation. 42
  • Jack Welch’s Lessons for Innovation. 42
  • Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman’s Lessons for Innovation. 43
  • Gary Hamel’s Lessons for Innovation.  . 43
  • Jeremy Hope’s Lessons for Innovation. 44
  • Tom Peters’ Lessons for Innovation. 44

E-Templates include

  • Post-it re-engineering
  • Understanding where you are now
  • Establishing a BOS Project Team Checklist 48
  • Establishing BOS Team Questionnaire. 50
  • BOS Team Applicant Questionnaire
  • BOS Team 360-Degree Questionnaire. 53
  • “Just Do It” Culture and Process Checklist 55
  • Job Description for the BOS Team Leader 56
  • Workshop Preparation Checklist 58
  • Guidelines to Running Workshops. 60
  • Pioneers, migrators, settlers template
  • Six pathways exercise
  • Step 2 scoring factors
  • Buyer utility map
  • Four actions framework

The working guide can be purchased from