How to peel away the pounds with Blue Ocean Strategy
Are you someone who has tried all sorts of diets in order to lose weight but somehow can never seem to stay on track towards a healthier lifestyle? Do you have a strategy for systematically getting back into shape?
Blue ocean strategy can offer you a structured framework for jump starting your healthy habits and peeling off the pounds in a sustainable way. Read the personal story below to learn how the Four Actions Framework can be applied to personal dieting. Get inspired by what was originally meant to be a strategy for businesses but is now making waves in every aspect of life!
By Srikanth Srinivas
I had gone on a cruise. The all-you-can-eat kind. While it was fun eating all those gourmet meals many times a day, the end result was that I ended up bloated and feeling unfit. I realized I needed to reduce weight, and at the same time, create more healthy habits so I don’t end up at the same place after another vacation.
Those two words – reduce and create – reminded me of Blue Ocean Strategy and the Four Actions Framework. Could I use these ideas to apply to my situation? Could I swim away from the red ocean of habits that made me susceptible to the overweight / obese malaise that inflicts so many of us, and get me to a blue ocean where I am growing healthy habits and staying healthy and fit?
Just as one would embark on such an exercise in a business context by understanding the market landscape, I decided to embark on a study to understand the health and lifestyle landscape.
I loved the idea of Blue Ocean Leadership where the focus is on acts and activities that can be measured and changed quickly rather than more amorphous, difficult to change things like attitudes, values and qualities. So I decided to focus on those options that have proven efficacy and at the same time can be easily translated to acts and activities within my context, and which, practiced over time, can become healthy habits.
The results of that analysis are summarized in the table below. (This was done using the Blue Ocean Leadership Visualizer App on the iPad. I found this to be very user-friendly and useful).
I settled on Intermittent Fasting. This, in turn, had several different options. I settled on the option where I fast for 16 hours by skipping breakfast. I eat dinner, and 16 hours later, go straight for lunch. In other words, eliminate breakfast.
This research also led me to a contrarian view on another dimension. I had subscribed to the theory of frequent snacking.
But with the perspective of providing the digestive system enough rest to do the job of repairing and healing, it seemed much more logical to cut down on snacking. In other words, reduce snacks. From multiple, uncontrolled snacking, I decided to go to 1 snack between 2 main meals – all within an 8 hour period.
With work pressures being high, I would get onto emails after I had spent time with the family and before getting to bed. Research indicated that this is a bad idea, and I had my own personal experience to back it up, as I was churning on all those emails at the same time I was trying to sleep. So I created a sleep buffer zone of at least 30 minutes that was spent either reflecting on gratitude or spiritual reading / reflections, meditation, or just relaxing and unwinding without any electronic devices.
Just as Blue Ocean talks about the hurdles and the notion of tipping point leadership, I found an equivalent concept of personal inertia and keystone habits. I did only one thing for a month – Intermittent fasting. When I felt fully settled, I added the next one; and reduced snacking to once a day. I did this for a month; then added the exercise routine. After another month of settling into this routine, I added the sleep buffer zone.
Blue Ocean Results:
- In case you are wondering how it all ended up, I did lose all the weight and more, my waistline got trimmed and I feel fitter and healthier. In hindsight, I should have done a before and after on vitals; however, I must confess, I did not do that.
- When you read the Yellow Tail or Cirque de Soleil case study, you didn’t take what they did too literally. The lessons you took away were the frameworks – The Strategy Canvas, the 4 Actions Framework, etc. The same thing applies here. The specific things I chose (intermittent fasting, snacking, exercising, sleep buffer zone) are context sensitive, but the fact that the blue ocean frameworks can be applied in life situations just as well as in business are universal.
- I found this to be so valuable that after a few more months of making sure these 4 habits are firmly in place, I intend to extend these ideas applied in a health context, to the wealth context. If I succeed and gain benefits, I would certainly write about that too. Stay tuned.
Srikanth Srinivas is the SVP of Solution Innovation at Medecision. He has co-authored several blogs on Innovation in HBR.