At Connect, our intent is to give a small contribution in evangelizing category thinking and, can you guess, in creating a new category of Category Design. As part of this effort, Connect hosted the first European conference about Category Design last week. We had the privilege to join forces with Kevin Maney, co-author of the book Play Bigger, and his partner at Category Design Advisors, Mike Damphousse. Sitting in the panel next to Kevin and Mike as a “category designer” was fun and quite flattering for me, although it didn’t help me with my impostor syndrome 😎
Below the tl;dr of my key messages:
- As products are orphans without a category, so founders and VCs are orphans without the category dimension. We have a problem we didn’t know we had: the lack of category thinking.
- Category thinking is the missing element in the toolbox of VCs and founders. The category layer is a fundamental component of the value stack of any large business. However, it is always overlooked at best, and ignored most of the time.
- The focus is on how to build the product and how to build the company but we never spend time discussing how to build the market category. We are all obsessed with market size, but we treat the market as if it was an independent variable that can not be influenced and developed. This is wrong, and Category Design is the discipline to fix it.