Re: shaping external trends
Without knowing a bit more about the context of this article, it's difficult to be precise about the meaning, but I would explain it as follows. The article lists the various different ways a company can take a "blue ocean strategy", which to me means a particularly wide-ranging strategy. Five of the ways involve different methods of interacting with different facets of the industry in which the company is already involved. The sixth: "shaping external trends over time" is a much broader and long term approach. It involves the company operating outside normal industrial activities in an effort to change the marketplace in which it operates. This will, obviously, take some time to accomplish.
Let me give you an example. Not many ago, most workmen did not use plastic helmets or high-visibility jackets, and wearing them was not compulsory in the UK. Now, let's say I owned a company making these items. It would not have done very well in those days, because most people regarded these accoutrements as unnecessary. Taking a long-term view, I would have got my PR department to find out which UK organisations and influential individuals were involved in safety at work, and I would have targeted them with propaganda [and monetary support, where applicable] about the need to improve safety and accident statistics. If I could eventually help generate a change in public perception about personal risk and the need to wear safety equipment when working [and even, ideally, have this incorporated into law] then I would have "shaped an external trend over time", which would result in my company selling many more helmets and high-visibility jackets.
I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....