The Blue Stars Corollary, a Touch of Celestial Navigation



    1) A Celestial Introduction

    2) From Agriculture to Astronomy

    3) Portfolio Classification


1) A Celestial Introduction


                    The constellation Taurus, the Bull, and its blue star cluster Pleiades, the Seven                                           Sisters, were known to the Persians and Chinese, the Maya and Aztec.1


    Class O stars, some of them massive, are bluish in color, extremely rare (one of 3,000,000 stars in our solar neighborhood), and extremely powerful (shining with over one million times the output of the sun). Class B (for Blue) stars are also powerful, with a surface temperature of 33,000 Kelvins versus the sun's 5,800 Kelvins. About one in 800 stars in our solar neighborhood is a blue star. They tend to cluster together in what are called OB assocations.

    A class O analogy would be the Roman Empire or the Ming Dynasty in China at the zenith of their power. With the one in 800 occurence the Blue Stars are in the realm of achievable corporate success. Corporate blue stars also sometimes form clusters, of which Silicon Valley is the largest and best known.


2) From Agriculture to Astronomy 

    The seed of an idea is nurtured and becomes a Blue Star flower:

 "Blüte in Blaustern," - a Blue Star in bloom *


The metamorphsis from Blue Star plant to Blue Star heavenly body is the legend of Apple and Microsoft, of Walmart with its 2 million employees and of Exon with its $30 billion in profits. (2010) There is no unifed theory of strategy to account for this kind of fantastic metamorphis from seed to cosmic success in one generation. There is not much in the way of prescriptive corollaries either to help one decide which business opportunities to pursue.

    The lack of verifiable prescriptive approaches is counterbalanced by a plethora of descriptive ones. Just one example is the portfolio classification of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), depicted below.


3) Portfolio Classification




    This classification, based on the concept of the experience curve, has the virtue of simplicity. Nevertheless over-emphasizing it can lead to bad strategy and a misallocation of resources. The classic example is that of Baldwin United, which long dominated the U.S. market for musical instruments. Baldwin United saw its musical product line as a "cash cow" to harvest for moving into other businesses.

    The Japanese tend to view pursuing a singular strategy as a weakness, as leading to a lack of flexibility. Yahama arrived with its multifaceted strategy and literally destroyed Baldwin United in the music instrument business. A number of American conglomerates have fared equally badly with their portfolio strategies as new competitors entered the market.

    The conclusion one draws is that the qualities a CEO needs are dauntingly similar to that of a Formula 1 driver:

    -  intense focus on the goal

    -  support by an exceptional fast-acting team

    -  precise control of risk while proceding at maximum speed

       --- which in turn entails excellent peripheral vision and quick reflexes.    



1 Taurus and Pleiades may have been depicted in Paleolithic times. Dr. Michael Rappenglück of the University of Munich (LMU) makes this case for a painting in the Lascaux caves in France, which are dated at about 15,000 BC to 16,000 BC. The constellation and star cluster definately appear in Babylonian star catalogues in 2300 BC. They are also mentioned in Homer's Odyssey.

Taurus, from Urania's Mirror, an English set of constellation cards, ca. 1825. *

    The nine brightest stars of Pleiades owe their names to Greek mythology. Atlas and Pleione, the parents of the seven sisters, appear on the left of the blue photograph at the top of the page. In the middle are Alcyone, and, below her, Merope. On the right, top to bottom, are Sterope, Taygeta, Maia, Celaeno and Electra. Zeus turned the sisters into stars, along with their 15 half-sisters, the Haydes, who together form the constellation Taurus. The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades are reduced by one and revered in Hindu mythology as the mothers of the war god Skanda.

    Pleiades is primarily made up of hot blue stars formed 100 million years ago. It is one of the closest of the star clusters (about 440 light years from earth), and the most visible one. Astronomers expect it to disperse in about 250 million years. The sources for these comments and the astronomy based ones in the section "1) Introduction" are articles in Wikipedia (2011).


            * © Pleiades, NASA, ESA, AURA, CalTech Palomar Observatory,, 13.09.2009,                                     public domain; Taurus,, 21.05.2009, public domain; "Blüte in Blaustern,"                       Bernhard Plank, CC-by-SA 2.0-de,, 16.05.08; Gyan Web Design 2010