Working with many manufacturers and retailers is a great privilege for me, and one that gives me the unique perspective to help identify broader issues and opportunities for our industry. A recent opportunity that was identified by Tom McDonald (Category Management Association) and I was to improve the connection of what we do in category management to the Shopper. How do we better connect with Shoppers? It starts by focusing on the big picture - including defining your department's purpose, and identifying your expected outputs AND inputs. By delving deeper into your inputs - including data, tools, strategy, processes and people (based on where your biggest gaps are) - you can uncover ways to improve your overall approach. These improved inputs can change your game! Are you ready? Although it may be difficult to get out of your comfort zone and start to think about ways to make changes to improve the future for your department, there are three steps that can get you started.