Top 3 Reasons I Embrace a Blue Ocean Strategy

Deep Dive: Insights and Innovations for Dredging, Ports & Waterways

By Janet Kirkton, Dredging Industry Steward

As Caterpillar’s steward for dredging, ports, and waterways, the main question I usually hear goes something like this…”huh, Caterpillar is involved in dredging?” To which I enthusiastically respond, “Absolutely!” In fact, I believe Caterpillar has the most comprehensive portfolio of power, propulsion and product solutions within the industry and we look forward to sharing our insights and innovations with you each month with this blog.

The second most common question I get is about our strategy for this industry segment. As we were developing our strategy for Caterpillar, our team read and was inspired by the book, Blue Ocean Strategy. If you are looking to innovate and create new opportunities for growth I suggest you consider reading it. Check out more about this book and the training to complement it to the bottom of this page. Listed below are the top 3 reasons I embrace this strategic approach.


1. Any organization can do it.

“The aim of blue ocean strategy was to allow any organization – large or small, new or incumbent – to step up to the challenge of creating blue oceans in an opportunity-maximizing, risk-minimizing way.”

Let’s face it, traditional markets have been and continue to be tough – as industry participants compete for every opportunity and sale in what Kim and Mauborgne refer to as the “bloody red ocean” in their book, “Blue Ocean Strategy.” Conversely, the authors believe that real, sustainable growth comes from creating new opportunities in “blue oceans,” which are void of this type of head-to-head competition.

Even an organization within an organization can use this strategy. In our case, Caterpillar has an entire product line of marine engines and machines that serve as our core offerings to this industry. So while the enterprise competes traditionally with these products in the "red ocean," so to speak, OEM Solutions seeks to fill any gaps that might exist and is empowered to innovate beyond core products.

One thing that makes our big, blue planet so special is the commonly known fact that about 71% of its surface is covered with water – with the oceans holding about 96.5% of all Earth’s water. 

Considering the fact that it is my job to steward Caterpillar’s business in and around water, an opportunity to create solutions and support customers working within 71% of the earth’s surface is inspiring! So, of all the places to create a “blue ocean,” the ocean itself is not a bad place to start.


2. Industry structure is not given; it can be shaped.

“Blue ocean strategy…shows how strategy can shape structure in an organization’s favor to create new market space.  It is based on the view that market boundaries and industry structure are not given and can be reconstructed by the actions and beliefs of the industry players.”

Historically, the market boundaries and industry structure were defined by the land and sea boundary and companies either served the marine industry or the construction industry, with solutions rarely spanning the gap. However, changing business conditions, climate change and sea level rise are shifting this boundary faster than traditional product development cycles can accommodate. In recognition of this shift, we are innovating and developing new solutions to solve a wider range of challenges across the land and sea boundary alongside our customers as they innovate and diversify their portfolios.


3.  Strategic creativity can be unlocked systematically.

“Stop looking to the competition.  Value–innovate and let the competition worry about you.”

In an effort to strategically unlock our own creativity and that of our customers, we launched our “What will we create today?” campaign early in 2016 with great results so far.

First and foremost, this approach empowered us as an organization to create the “blue ocean” culture required to look at the dredging, ports and waterways industry differently and to value-innovate in ways we hadn’t before.

Second, collaborating with customers to create new solutions provided them a new level of flexibility and agility previously unavailable with our core machine offerings. As a result, our engagement with customers to create new solutions has grown considerably. There are some pretty exciting custom products already working, and more are on the way.

Last, but most important, is the contribution of our solutions to the creation of new land. Whether customers are creating new beaches, marshlands, or additional landmass for critical infrastructure, Cat® equipment and technology will play a key role, crafting a legacy we can all be proud of.

So in looking at this wide open, blue ocean of possibilities, let’s explore together and succeed together – what will we create today? 



Blue Ocean Strategy

As we were developing our strategy for Caterpillar, our team read and was inspired by the book Blue Ocean Strategy. If you are looking to innovate and create new opportunities for growth, I suggest you consider reading it.

Learn more about this training and purchase the book at www.blueoceanstrategy.com. 

Our Caterpillar team found value in the Blue Ocean Strategy book when developing our strategic approach to the dredging industry. Our Caterpillar team found value in the Blue Ocean Strategy book when developing our strategic approach to the dredging industry.
Blue Ocean Strategy. Harvard Business Review Press. @ Kim and Mauborgne, 2015.

Janet Kirkton

As Caterpillar’s Industry Steward for Dredging, Ports & Waterways, Jan is constantly in pursuit of new opportunities and solutions to serve this vast industry. Her kids liken this job to being a "Master Transformer" - and truthfully, it kind of is.

In collaboration with customers and external partners, Jan leverages Caterpillar core products to develop new and innovative solutions for dredging companies and contractors. Whether you’re working on land or in the sea, our unique custom products benefit from the same incredible support from our dealer network as our standard Cat machines. How great is that?

Have an idea? She would love to hear about it. Connect with Jan on LinkedIn or email her at HMS_solutions@cat.com!

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