.BLUE Makes Waves with Asia’s Blue Ocean Concept

The “Blue Ocean Strategy” is one of the most prominent business theories originating from Asia in recent years. The strategy classifies the business universe into the “Red Ocean” and “Blue Ocean.”

  • Red Ocean: The known market space. Companies try to outperform their competition to gain a bigger share of the existing demand.
  • Blue Ocean: The unknown market space where demand is created rather than fought over. Instead of a zero-sum game, it becomes a NEW game with tremendous growth.

That sounds great in theory… how does a company apply the Blue Ocean Strategy in real life? Meet Joshua Davies, the principal consultant of 1221 Consulting (www.1221.blue) in Asia. Newly founded in 2014, the company is inspired by the Blue Ocean concept and is making waves in the training and consulting business. Joshua jumped on a Skype call with us recently – one late night during his business trip in Tokyo.


Q&A with Joshua Davies 


What Blue Ocean are you sailing in?

Let’s think about the traditional training industry. It’s a US$100 billion industry with the biggest growth in the Asia Pacific region. Here there are just about 1,000 to 2,000 training firms, 60% of which are small- to medium-sized companies. Training is viewed as individual “events” – people come to a training class and that’s it. There is very little follow-through and we don’t know if the training has made any impact on their behavior or their business performance.

It’s really the perfect Blue Ocean set-up: an open, growing market with a demand for a new way of training!

1221 Consulting is a full-service consulting firm and training classes are just one piece of our solution. We offer heavy content localization, micro-learning follow-up tools, thought leadership research, and change management consultation. Of training firms in the Asia Pacific less than 10% our turning to progressive training modalities and offering a full-solution suite as we do, and of those that do, even fewer can match our price/benefit ratio.


Is it smooth sailing so far?

It’s AWESOME sailing! We are growing so much faster than we expected. We are working with a number of Fortune 500 clients throughout the region. We budgeted to break even in the first year and we are instead in the process of acquisition as well as expanding are hiring plan.


Everything about your company and your brand is just so interesting and different! Let’s talk about your company name – 1221 Consulting. What does “1221” mean?

That’s the exact response we get from clients – and we get their attention right away! 12.21 – Dec 21, that’s the day of the Solstice (the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the longest in the southern hemisphere). It is THE day of CHANGE, which is what we bring to our clients.

Also, 1221 is a numeric palindrome. It reads the same forward or backward. It symbolizes how change doesn’t happen in just one direction.


Your web address www.1221.blue completes your “change” imagery then?

Yes, exactly. We picked the .BLUE web address for many reasons. First, it’s my favorite color! Also, it’s short and it’s good for search engine optimization. On top of that, its association with the hugely popular Blue Ocean concept here in Asia is something a lot of our clients can relate to. And of course: it sticks out!


Yes a .BLUE web address certainly sticks out! How is it helping with your brand building?

I have always been interested in more unique domains. “.COM” doesn’t really mean anything. It lacks any real significance. .BLUE, on the other hand, adds a color, a mood. It goes beyond a blank placeholder and provides a meaningful context. Instead of a blank sheet of paper, we now have a splash of color.

When our clients see our web address, they all ask: “.BLUE? Is that even an option?” They think it’s interesting, unique. Their reactions have been very positive. As we talk about our choice of domain name, we start building a relationship.

It’s important for a new, small company like mine to stand out not in an ostentatious way but more like with a subtle nudge.  A lot of times it’s these subtle nudges, small little motions that make a big impact. They help people bond with the brand.


Any final words or advice for other training firms who want to build their brand and make a real change?

My advice: (1) Look for continuous improvement. Always be curious. (2) Remember training is just one piece of an overall change process. We are consultants, not deliverers of training. (3) Don’t be shy about sharing! This is a fundamental change in the industry: long-time trainers are typically very protective of their training materials which they see as their intellectual property (IP). In today’s world, you need to get your content out there quickly and get it to as many people as possible! You are not selling a training manual but the entire training and development service. In the Blue Ocean of training, we’re ultimately in the business of positive education. Ideas for positive communication want to be shared and focusing on protecting knowledge itself a as business strategy is no longer a model for the 21st century.



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Posted on Date:
Monday, July 13, 2015