We recently hosted our first live Category Design session and we chose to dedicate it to Zeke Lunder.
If you recall from our previous post, Zeke @wildland_zko has a YouTube channel called The Lookout where he records videos explaining what is actually happening in real-time through the lens of a strategic firefighter. It's fact-based, strategic in nature, and apolitical. He publishes the most recent infrared (IR) maps of where California fires are precisely located within an hour of the data becoming available. He is pioneering a new category of media and we set out to help him design it.
Our goal with the live session was to use the opportunity to provide a snapshot into how we approach the Category Design process here at Play Bigger.
No doubt it was a challenge trying to fit what usually takes 4-6 months into a 90-minute time frame. So, we decided to take a first cut at these key pieces of the process in advance of the session:
• The Category Assessment
• The Problem Statement
• The Category Name
• The POV Narrative
• The Category Blueprint
We then used our time together to review and build the category live with our participants.
The outcome? A smashing success.
Interactive Mural whiteboard for our live category session
The Problem Statement
We had a group of nearly 30 hyper-engaged category designers and designers-in-training who joined us live on Zoom and Mural. The group contributed over 150 ideas throughout various stages of the session.
The activity in our Zoom chat and across the various sections of our Mural was wild and messy at times, but absolutely brilliant at generating ideas and perspective to the work - it absolutely blew us away.
Check out the working Blueprint that we created as a group:
A few important takeaways from the session:
Group intelligence is a real and powerful resource that is becoming increasingly easier to tap into. Diversity of perspective generated at key points during the Category Design journey has always been an important ingredient of success. New norms of remote work and comfort collaborating virtually have significantly expanded, as well as elevated, the caliber of input we can generate. While there are challenges to remote work like this -- including driving alignment and reading individual reactions -- they can be more than offset with the opportunities to include a greater diversity of perspectives.
Volume and velocity of ideas is dramatically enhanced with more freeform moments. We’ve spent a lot of time honing our process over the past 12+ years. In part, we’re constantly working to find a balance between structured context setting and guiding of process vs. freeform thinking and gathering a variety of contributions. Too often, unfortunately, to the detriment of time spent with more freeform moments due to time constraints and challenges of collaborative orchestration. Tools like Mural are unbelievably powerful at balancing the freeform side of the equation into line with structured guidance. These tools are great at mitigating inherent biases that tend to creep in when groups work together (e.g., group think) and easing ways for everyone to contribute regardless of their temperament and/or personality.
Interest in and around Category Design seems to be at an all-time high. The number and caliber of people who not only gave freely of their time but were engaged throughout the session was beyond expectations. Not to mention the amount of positive feedback and excitement we received afterwards. As companies and investors look to catalyze growth for what they believe to be transformational ideas, Category Design continues to expand as a discipline proven to deliver marketshiftingoutcomes.
Finally, a massive THANK YOU to all our participants. Your comments and emails after the event were filled with energy:
I’m sure Zeke will appreciate where we landed and all the hard work our impressive group of designers put into making his category potential much more real and achievable. In fact, we enjoyed the process and engagement format so much, expect to hear from us again regarding future live sessions. You may have a chance to contribute and sharpen your craft as a Category Designer.