Friday Book Review! Play Bigger

readinglist_playbiggerWhat do Uber and Birdseye frozen foods have in common? They are what the authors of a new book, Play Bigger, call category kings. Category kings are unique companies that revolutionize industries by inventing entirely new categories — and then dominating that category. Play Bigger is written by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson and Christopher Lochhead, three Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who co-founded a consultancy focused on designing category king companies — the name of the book is the name of their consultancy; a fourth co-author is long-time technology journalist Kevin Maney. The authors begin by defining the term “category.” A great category, they write, “solves a problem people didn’t know they had, or solves an obvious problem no one thought could be solved.”

On a visit to the Arctic, Clarence Birdseye, who created the frozen food category, watched the Inuit catch a fish and throw it on the ice, where it would instantly flash freeze. Birdseye’s reaction was not, “Finally, the solution to the problem of frozen food!” — for the simple reason that frozen food was not a concept and, therefore, not a problem. The founders of Uber, on the other hand, realized that their concept would solve a problem familiar to nearly anyone who has been near a city: the often frustrating experience of trying to hail a cab. It was an obvious problem but not one that people thought could be solved.

Finding the Missing

A vision for a new category, write the authors, often emerges from what they call a “missing” — the recognition by entrepreneurs that there is something missing in the market and that their solution can fill the gap. Marc Benioff realized that the cloud offered a way to provide CRM solutions without the expense and hassle of software. Leaving Oracle, he founded a new company called Salesforce.com, which would become the king of the cloud-based salesforce automation. An inventive idea, however, is just a small initial step in the category king strategy. The authors tell the story of a company called Jawbone. Among its inventions was a small headset that connected wirelessly to cell phones — just as states were passing no-hands regulations for drivers. However…(click to continue reading this review)

 

Three Hot New Summaries Available Now!

Depending on where you live, this has been quite a brutal summer, hasn’t it? I don’t think I can remember a year where I’ve consciously avoided spending too much time outdoors as much as I have this summer. Of course, my extra time spent in the air conditioning means that I’ve been able to read even more business books. Our entire editorial team has been hard at work scouring the stacks of submissions. The result of this intense study is three new summaries now available on Summary.com!

As I mentioned on Wednesday of this week, Soundview subscribers can’t get enough of the insightful works of John C. Maxwell. We’re pleased to announce that you can now read the summary of his latest book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. In this book, Maxwell provides readers with the skills to create lasting connections through communication. Whether speaking to an audience of one or a thousand, Maxwell shares the best practices to create memorable connections.

Have you ever wondered why some products take off while others languish? Author Kevin Maney provides an in-depth examination of this problem in the summary of his book Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t. Maney argues that successful products are either high fidelity or high convenience. Read the summary to see why companies that try to merge the two into a single product end up losing potential buyers.

Finally, our third new summary takes readers on an exploration of the modern workplace. Jon Katzenbach and Zia Khan offer leaders a new way forward in their book Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the (in)Formal Organization, Energize Your Team and Get Better Results.

Who said these have to be the dog days of August? We’ve got three great summaries in eight digital formats to help take your mind off the heat. Learn more about the benefits of a Soundview subscription.