Dr. Kinyanjui Nganda

+Dr. Ng’ang’a is recognized as one of the most inspiring mentors, life coach, corporate trainer, and business consultant in the world.

Permission sought to reprint on 07MAY2021
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Blue-Sky Strategy

1. How to Develop Organizational Blue-Sky Strategy

Blue-Sky Strategy is a 5-Level diagnostic business planning approach designed to help organizations analyze and identify the level at which they are operating with the intention to move to higher strategic levels and constantly disrupt the status quo to shape an unfamiliar future by exploiting their differential factor.

Premised on disruptive business ideology, Blue-Sky Strategy is an open conversation and an agile planning approach that constantly checks and separates what is working from that which is overtaken by emerging strategic issues. This is in contrast to strategic planning whereby the strategic direction of an organization is static during the execution phase of the strategic plan.

At times, a single war can have numerous battlefronts. Using the war analogy to explain the concept of Blue-Sky Strategy, every level in this Strategy is a battlefront defined by tactics while the entire strategy is the warzone. That said, any Blue-Sky strategist should read the book, Blue-Sky Strategy, by the author and concept developer, Dr. K. N. Jacob.

1.2 Blue-Sky Planning Process

  1. Synthesize the concept of Blue-Sky Strategy: Every member of the Blue-Sky Strategy team should be fairly conversant with the concept of Blue-Sky Strategy. All departmental heads and the CEO should be trained on Blue-Sky Strategy prior to organizational Blue-Sky planning.
  2. Chess Game Markets Analysis: Identify the players in your field and their organizational strategies to help you locate their level in the Blue-Sky Strategy. All players below the Blue Line are in the Chess Game Markets.
  3. Locate Organizational Level: In view of the features and tactics in each of the 5 levels in the Blue-Sky Strategy, identify the level you are operating at as an organization.
  4. Perform a 5-Level Strategy Diagnosis: Identify the tactics you have used for each of the 5 strategic levels. For the levels above your current organizational status, discuss the tactics you will use to navigate to your next level.
  5. Develop a Blue-Sky Planning Matrix: Design a Blue-Sky Strategy implementation plan based on your organizational level, tactics, actors, skills, and resources required and projected timeframe.
  6. Strategy Rollout and Realignments: Launch the organizational Blue-Sky Strategy and realign the tactics annually in view of emerging strategic opportunities.

1.3 Features of Blue-Sky Strategy

  1. Blue-Sky Strategy is a 3-year strategy. Each level comprises of tactics that are realigned (reviewed) annually while the entire strategy is evaluated at the end of 3 years to carve the drift. At times organizational core strengths have emerged from originally non-core focus areas such as Mpesa has become the core strength of an original telecom company (Safaricom).
  2. Blue-Sky Strategy is not a linear process. The planning process is cyclic and dynamic. For instance, you may identify your organizational level based on step number 3 in the planning process just to correct yourself after doing step number 4 in the 5-Level Strategic Diagnosis.
  3. Blue-Sky Strategy does not involve processes. Blue-Sky strategy is based on key deliverables (results). Annual Work Plans are derived from the strategy document to operationalize the Strategy.
  4. Blue-Sky Strategy comprises 7 sections (chapters) in tabulated format. This is meant to eliminate unnecessary details and keep the focus in the planning process on key results at the enterprise (corporate/organizational) level.

1.4 Blue-Sky Strategy has the following 7 Sections

  • Section 1: Chess Game Markets
  • Section 2: Level 1 – Ground Level
  • Section 3: Level 2 – Take-Off
  • Section 4: Level 3 – Grey Sky
  • Section 5: Level 4 – Blue-Sky
  • Section 6: Level 5 – Shaping the Future
  • Section 7: Blue-Sky Planning Matrix

Section 1: Chess Game Markets

  1. List down the players in your industry and identify their key business strategies. Use their key business strategies to match their level in the Blue-Sky Strategy. Those below Blue-Sky Level are operating in the Chess Game Markets.
  2. By critically examining their key business strategies for those below the Blue Line, identify your differential factor – not how superior you are from the rest, but how different you are. The market is looking for ‘what is different?’
  3. For the players operating in the Blue-Sky, critically ask yourself what propelled them to the Blue-Sky. What keeps them at the Blue-Sky? If you are not operating at the Blue-Sky, ask yourself what keeps you in the Chess Game Markets?
  4. Remember the focus on Chess Game Markets Analysis is external (other organizations within the industry). But in the 5-Level Strategy Diagnosis (succeeding sections), the focus is internal.

NB: It is assumed that the reader (or Blue-Sky strategist) has been trained on Blue-Sky Strategy and, therefore, appreciates the concept of Chess Game Markets.

Section 2: Level 1 – Ground Level

An organization (or a department in an organization) can be at a Quasi-Level. This implies that an organization (or a department in an organization) may have features that cut across different levels along the Blue-Sky Strategy. In such instances, such an organization ought to identify the tactics to employ to bridge lower-level gaps for the entire organization to move to higher strategic levels.

Section 3: Level 2 – Take-Off

Section 4: Level 3 – Grey Sky

  1. Most organizations operate at the Grey Sky. At the Grey Sky, rather than thinking about how to reinvigorate their business machinery, many organizations turn their guns on each other. They result in threats and redundancies. Decisions are made emotionally, not strategically. Rather than thinking about disruptive business, employees employ survival tactics not to lose their jobs because layoffs and downsizing are commonplace.
  2. When the burden is back-breaking – too onerous to bear – do not add insult to the injured. Retreat to refuel. Reach out for a transformational consultant. Not empty rhetoric. A genuine merchant of hope. This is my life calling. I see hope in murky waters. I help individuals and organizations re-engineer.
  3. While at the Grey Sky, consider organizational re-engineering. Go back to the drawing table. Reexamine your business model, corporate brand, products differentiation, and target audience in view of changing tides. Look beyond your industry and find out what might be applicable with a twist to your business.
  4. Open the horizons in your thinking and perspective by indulging in arts. Read, listen to good music, attend dramatic performances, walk through an art gallery or museum. Pivot and change course. This could mean re-branding; changing your business model; clustering your target audience; or selling off a certain product.
  5. This might require external help. It is ok to ask for a hand from a nearby boat. Why sink when help is nearby? Admit there is a foundational problem beyond a periodic aberration. Look to others who know more than you and get solid advice that you can run with.

Section 5: Level 4 – Blue Sky

Section 6: Level 5 – Shaping the Future

Section 7: Blue Sky Strategy Planning Matrix

  1. The Blue-Sky Strategy Planning Matrix is a tool designed to help operationalize the Blue-Sky Strategy.
  2. This Planning Matrix is based on the level of the organization. Levels behind the Organizational Level are for organizational appraisal, review, and reflection.
  3. Activities and processes should be derived from the strategy document and designed as Annual Work Plans for respective actors. At the strategy level, only tactics and key results are identified.
  4. For each tactic, the planner should match the Result, Resources, Actor, and Timeframe. Resources include monetary implications as well as essential skills and knowledge.





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