All writers, entrepreneurs, and creators must be able to discover and recognize breakthrough ideas.
The question is — how do you set out to uncover the next great opportunity? I recommend playing something called The Breakthrough Game and using the specialized Category Design Scorecard to recognize what works.
Together, these tools can help you move the world from the way it is, to the way you want it to be.
In 1895, The Campbell Soup Company had a breakthrough.
Campbell’s — and a chemist within the company named John T. Dorrance — came up with a radically different idea.
Canning was a popular method for sealing food. And while soup was cheap to make (its primary ingredient being water), it was still heavy and expensive to ship. Dorrance realized that if Campbell’s halved the water in each can, the business could produce and ship exponentially more soup. Simultaneously, the company could drop the price of a can of soup from 30 cents to 10 cents, expanding both their distribution and lowering the barrier to entry for new customers in a way no other food production company had been able to.
As a result, Campbell’s invented the “condensed soup” category.
If you are a creator with an idea, an executive running a company, or an investor betting on the future, how can you do what Campbell’s did, today?
You can start with The Breakthrough Game.
Imagine for a moment you’ve just been fired from your company — whether it be a global enterprise or a garage startup. No one is hiring. You have a kid on the way. And your only option is to create a new and different future for yourself. Your mission is to create a new category or redesign the existing category such that you put your old employer out of business and you win.
(See an in-depth example of how we Category Pirates work through these questions for an up-and-coming category.)
But how do you know when you’re looking at a category creator versus just another high-growth company fighting for market share in an existing category?
The Category Design Scorecard will tell you.
The Category Design Scorecard gives you a good sense of how relevant you or your company will be 10 years from now.
I created this scorecard with Category Pirates after reviewing companies from the Fortune 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list and analyzing their 10Ks, Annual Reports, Investor Presentations, and Investor Relations websites. Companies were scored in five key areas on a 0 to 2 scale: 0 being the company does not successfully accomplish each area’s goal, 1 being the company partially accomplishes the goal, and 2 being the company successfully accomplishes the goal.
Here’s a quick overview of each area:
What was striking to discover, however, was the three-year stock price growth for each of these types.
To see the results and learn how to score companies, dive in to The Category Design Scorecard.