Blue Ocean Creation Step One: Eliminate

Let’s go back to step one of the Four Actions Framework for creating a Blue Ocean: Eliminate. It’s hard to expand our thinking enough to identify something we could cut altogether. What part of parenting can we possibly cut? Food? Education? Potty training? It seems at first glance that the jobs that go with parenting are a given and we just have to accept them. I’m sure it looks that way for businesses, too. Who could imagine a circus without animals? Yet Cirque du Soleil eliminated animal performers and I doubt anyone has left a show thinking it was lacking a special something because it didn’t have animals.

Even if we could be imaginative enough to think of a standard part of parenting that we might choose to eliminate, the worst is yet to come. Cutting is even scarier than reducing. If we choose to reduce we might just look like we’re struggling to get it all done. Others might react with pity saying “Aw, that poor Mom, she’s so stressed she can’t manage to pack her kids a lunch.” If we eliminate something it will most likely be apparent to all, and we’ll have to answer the questions and bear up under the disapproving looks. Such social consequences can be especially difficult to take when we ourselves are unsure we have made the right choice. In my short years of parenting I’ve already learned the lesson that there are no guarantees and every choice comes with risk. It’s a scary business, yet there is no safe place of protection. Even if we go along with the norms of our time it will not shelter us from the scorn of the next generation decrying our inhumane practices. Life is risky. Let’s face the fact bravely.

From the book, Blue Ocean Strategy,

“No company . . . can afford to be a riverboat gambler. And no company should.”

They emphasize “creating blue oceans in a smart and responsible way that is both opportunity maximizing and risk minimizing.”

I’m still reading through the book and have lots of work to do to translate how it applies to families, but the warning against gambling is more important for families than for business. Businesses are finite. Every company, every organization, and every country will one day come to an end. The family’s business of making and shaping people is of utmost – and I believe eternal – importance. Even if you don’t believe in the afterlife, clearly raising children well is of great importance to you or you wouldn’t be reading this!

So how do we eliminate a commonly accepted “necessity” of parenting without being fools?

How do we continue to live socially in our communities when our choices set us apart?

There is so much more to explore and discover. Do you have questions or thoughts? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear your perspective!

4 thoughts on “Blue Ocean Creation Step One: Eliminate”

    1. Indeed! Which is why I left it as a question to be explored in a later post . . . any thoughts?

  1. I’ve been thinking about things that I have reduced or eliminated and, as I was throwing in the towels to be washed this morning, it came to me. I have stopped folding the napkins. Does that sound ridiculous or what? I used to spend a few minutes folding our cloth napkins after they were cleaned and then I thought, why? It is not like we set the table perfectly, we just grab the napkins out of the drawer and hand them around to the people at the table. Now, I just take the whole pile and put them in the drawer. (If I were setting a fancy table it would be different. I wouldn’t use our every day napkins which are pretty horrible and I would iron the nice ones if they needed it, but this event is pretty rare).

    Which brings me to ironing. I used to iron David’s dress shirts for work. He doesn’t often have to wear a suit which is fortunate. Many years ago, I/we decided it was worth the money (I want to say that at the time it was $1.25) to take the shirts to the dry cleaners. If you wore shirts that needed to be ironed every day, it could get pricey, but at the same time, if you had to iron shirts for every day – ugh! Worth the money!

    Not really about parenting, but it still impacts the household.

  2. Yes, Sarah! It makes a lot of sense. Not folding the napkins is a way to reduce while still staying well above “industry standard” in your own Blue Ocean by using cloth napkins.

    My parents were generous and certainly not miserly, but very, very frugal. Yet as far back as I can remember my father took his dress shirts to be cleaned every week. They thought it worth the expense. The best part as far as I was concerned was the weekly supply of “shirt cardboard” — the rectangles about 9″x12″ that were used to keep the shirts in shape.

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