BUSINESS theorists routinely instruct managers to look over the horizon. “Blue Ocean Strategy” is the most successful book on business master-planning in recent years. In it W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of INSEAD, a business school in France, argue that companies should trawl for profits in “blue oceans” that their rivals ignore rather than “red oceans” that they squabble over. Companies often search for ways to disrupt their industries lest a rival or new entrant does the same and pulls the rug from beneath them. But reinventing a business from the ground up, to avoid being consumed by the fires of new technology, comes with huge risks as well as a potential for great rewards.

Ships that set sail for blue oceans are often becalmed in the middle of nowhere. AOL-Time Warner’s catastrophic merger in 2000 failed to remake the media business for the internet age. News Corp’s foray into social networking ended with the sale of Myspace for a small fraction of its purchase price. Sometimes being cautious, incremental and pragmatic when others are gambling on bold and visionary thinking is more sensible. Why take the chance when there is lots...Continue reading