Category Design: Communications & Culture.

I have been reflecting a lot over the last few months about the work that I have done, the promise I can make someone new, and what I am good at. This review process should be a regular occurrence, and for me, it is. Branding is the art of telling the world about your particular genius.

I read an article recently about standing apart from the crowd, creating the next normal. Pandemic times seems a good time to offer that up to employers…I wrote this para:

I am a communications and culture category designer. I have a deep background in all the Communications departments, as well as skills and experience in culture, content, community, creativity, curiosity, coaching, digital transformation, OE/OD, engagement; leadership, ops, and white, male privilege.

How can I help?

Category design (first described in Play Bigger) is a way to create and frame a new service or product, often in an emergent or game-changing way, using the principles of design thinking:

  • What is… discover and define a category problem that currently exists.
  • What if… envision a new, improved future; create point of view and sell to stakeholders.
  • What wows… solutions that stand out.
  • What works… test possible solutions and mobilize users in the real world.

Think, uber or airbnb.

It is about tackling a knotty problem or challenge. Sinking your teeth into something, about moving forward.

I realised that I had been designing categories for a decade. It sounds grandiose, but that’s what white male privilege gives you. I haven’t done the work always with an overarching intent to “challenge everything” – I deal with the things, guidance, projects and schematics in front of me. However, there has always been a quest for more, for “YES!

I wrote some notes, and made a PDF version.

Maybe you will find some usability or encouragement in it. Maybe a project we can work on? I will share some case studies about category design over the next couple of weeks…

Why we need category design: Communications

In 2020, there will be 44 zettabytes (trillion gigabytes) of data created. 90% of all the data in the world has been created in the last two years.

A lot of that information gets thrown at people. Colleagues are overwhelmed by the noise: WORDS!”

Unfortunately, the communications function, parsing all this stuff, becomes bureaucratic, clogging organizational arteries with process and formality; policing what can be said, when, by whom, through which channel. There ends up too many, fractured services – internal, external, employee, corporate, media, social, change management – that overlap and compete.

We need more natural, emergent mechanisms for all stakeholders to commune around a common purpose; to align around shared strategic intents. We can enable colleagues to own the communications work for themselves.

Why we need category design: Culture

Only about ⅓ of employees feel engaged at work. Everyone feels the them and us. Our workplaces are a maelstrom of mistrust and misunderstanding; the unheard, unheralded and disenfranchised.

Our organizations lack balance. White, male privilege sets the agenda. Execs and insiders sit on year-long strategy Steering Committees, then expect a single Townhall to effect immediate change. Management still tells us what to do. Personal and corporate stories do not match.

Our corporate cultures can better represent the skills, diversity, and stories of ‘people like us who do things like this.’ We can better empower our people, scale their talents, support them on their career paths.

This Much We Know.

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