For a startup, the first step should be to have a clear understanding of where you stand. To do this, you should draw your as-is strategy canvas that will give you and your team a big picture view of the current state of play in your target industry. It will let you clearly see the industry’s defining contours without getting lost in the small operational details. By drawing the strategy canvas, you would have captured on a single page the current state of play, the assumptions the industry acts on that you can later overturn, as well as the degree of competitive convergence across the existing players. This gives the team a commonly agreed upon baseline to assess new ideas against.
The next step is to “imagine where you could be,” which is all about identifying the total demand landscape beyond the existing industry that you can unlock – these are current noncustomers – and a big big-picture view of the ways in which the underlying assumptions and boundaries that currently define the industry also limit its appeal and size. Here you will use tools such as the buyer utility map and the three tiers of noncustomers to identify real opportunities that you could unlock to make a blue ocean shift. These are the first steps to get you started as we lay out in the book.