The Long Table is a dinner party structured by etiquette, where conversation is the only course. The project ingeniously combines theatricality and models for public engagement. It is at once a stylised appropriation and an open-ended, non-hierarchical format for participation. Both of these elements – theatrical craft and political commitment – are mutually supporting in this widely and internationally toured work. The (often-feminised) domestic realm here becomes a stage for public thought.
Squiggle birds is a quick exercise that you can use to get people stretching their visual thinking muscles. It takes about five minutes and quickly, clearly demonstrates how little effort is really required to make meaningful, easy-to-read images. The main point of the demonstration is that our minds are already pattern-making machines, and very little drawing is actually required to convey an idea. The mind will fill in the rest.
I learned this exercise from my friend Chris Glynn, a fine teacher who teaches fine things.
Object of Play
This game has been designed to gather facts and opinions from the participants on different aspects of the issue at stake. It will help gain and share insight from all points of view, since everyone will have had the chance to contribute.
Number of Players: Up to 50
Duration of Play: 15min to an hour depending on the amount of participants
How to Play
- Prepare 5 up to 10 flip-charts where you address different aspects of the topic at hand. On each flip-chart you address a certain aspect of the issue by posing a powerful question about it, these questions should be impersonal and ask for facts and opinions. Focus on “what”, “when” and “how” questions.
- Spread the flip-charts through the entire room, making sure there is enough distance in between to allow group discussions between participants without disturbing the others too much.
- Quickly introduce the topic at hand and go through the questions of each flip-chart, making sure everybody understands the questions correctly.
- Aks participants to split into pairs, or groups up to 5 people if you have a bigger group. You should have one group per flip-chart/question.
- Ask each group to answer the question by adding their ideas, facts and opinions on the flip-chart either with images, writing or post-it artifacts in a way that it is possible for others to interprete the data presented.
- Give each group 2-3min time to add their information and rotate to the next flip-chart (clock-wise or counter clock-wise)
- Repeat until each group has answered all the questions.
- Give the entire group another 5-10min to review all generated content and move to the next step: prioritization and/or deeper research into some of the ideas generated.
By limiting the time a group has to answer a question you will make them focus on the most important things. The idea is not to gather all information per participant but to gather meaningful information as a group. This gathered information will form the basis for a prioritization and/or deeper research into some of the ideas and opinions.
Object of Play
This game has been designed to help set the right culture in a group of people and help build mutual trust. It will empower all participants to act upon the results of this game.
Number of Players: Up to 30
Duration of Play: +/-30min
How to Play
- You write down the words “Meaningful” and “Pleasant” in the middle of a flip-chart or whiteboard.
- You aks everybody in the group to shout out what they believe is necessary to make sure this meeting or workshop will be meaningful and pleasant.
- As participants are providing thoughts and ideas, you record the information given in a mind-map structure.
Note: Preferably by using images instead of words.
- Quickly pass by each of the ideas recorded and make sure everybody has the same understanding of the idea at hand. If necessary adjust the item to avoid misunderstanding. = Values within the group.
- Now go back to the first item addressed and ask the participants how they believe would be a good way to make sure this idea is carried out during the meeting or workshop. Record the items attached to the given value addressed. = Actions.
- End the game with pointing out that this code of conduct that the group just created needs to be upheld by everyone. Every participant has the responsibility to make sure everybody in the group respects this code. = working agreement.
- Optionally: You could ask people if they want to take ownership of one of the actions registered.
Note: Be aware that this may cause a typical human reaction from the others: “It is this persons problem to monitor, not mine anymore”.
Make sure everybody contributes to the making of the mind-map. If you believe the group is not strong or comfortable enough for this, you could substitute the shouting of ideas by letting everyone write down their ideas in silence combined with an affinity map to achieve similar results that can be recorded in the mind-map. It will take some time to create this shared code of conduct but it will help groups of people where there is little to no trust and openness to break through the initial barriers.
Object of Play
Ideal activity for flex points in a gathering (the beginning, when coming back from lunch, at the end of the day). Give everyone at a gathering an opportunity to “get there” mentally by engaging with the purpose/subject. Give everyone a significant amount of “air time” so that everyone’s voice is in the conversation (no matter how many participants, everyone 5-10 minutes). Energize participants and get oxygen to the brain by standing and moving physically).
Number of Players
Unlimited. This activity “scales” really well from a minimum of around 12 to thousands.
Duration of Play
How to Play
1. Invite everyone to leave their “stuff” and move to an open space in the room where everyone can stand and there’s room to move around.
2. Pose a juicy question that is directly related to the purpose of the gathering.
3. Ask everyone to reflect on the question silently for a full minute
4. Explain the simple rules;
– When you hear the chimes, find a partner (someone you know less well than others is more interesting). If you’re looking for a partner put your hand in the air so someone else who needs a partner can find you easily.
– Have a 5 minute conversation about the question.
– When the chimes ring again, find a new partner (remember the hand up trick) and have another conversation.
– When the chimes ring continuously, stop and find out what happens next.
5. Three ‘rounds’ of the process are usually good.
6. At this point, there are many possible variations for a next move. Two possibilities: (1) Invite everyone to sit back down and start the next part of the gathering. (2) Invite partners to hook up with one or two other pairs and sit down in a knee-to-knee circle and talk about what struck them about the conversations.
Debrief this process in addition to harvesting the content from the discussions Invite participants to reflect on what it was like to have the conversation using this process. Things they might notice include: How starting a meeting standing up builds rather than drains energy, how having several iterations of the same conversation with different partners changes understanding, and how questions open up more space for creative thinking than presentations. The goal is to introduce participants to the pattern language of these generative processes.
Source: Shared by Lisa Kimball of Group Jazz.
Object of Play
Overwhelming backlog lists are paralyzing, making it seemingly impossible to take the first step in conquering accumulated assignments. Not only do these intimidating to-do lists constantly grow, but they lose efficiency as more important tasks are added without any order. How do you know the best place to start conquering this debilitating beast? How can you determine the most productive sequence for the assignments? Fortunately, the innovative Agile and Scrum expert, Mitch Lacey, has developed Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization: a revolutionary technique to manage backlogs. As described in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice for Your First Year, this game provides a painless way to prioritize tasks, making your backlog list less daunting and more effective.
Number of Players
5 – 8
Duration of Play
How to Play
1. To begin, draw a graph on a large poster or white board.
- X-axis = “Size.” This charts the complexity of the backlog item
- Y-axis = “Priority” to designate the urgency of the task. This can be measured by anything the players agree is important, such as ROI or business value.
- Divide the graph into three vertical sections to help your team organize the assignments based on the amount of effort needed to complete them.
2. Pass out notecards and pens for players to write backlog items on and post on the chart according to their size and complexity.
3. When all participants are finished, look at the arrangement of the notecards and collaborate to rearrange them as needed. The top-left section of the chart will be at the top of your work/product backlog, as they are high priority and low-effort tasks. In contrast, the items in the top-right are high priority and large.
4. When all the notes are in their appropriate places, order them in a to-do list by starting with those in the top-left corner and moving clockwise.
Examine the note cards in the upper right region of the chart. Is there any way to divide these items into more manageable tasks? These smaller assignments may then be separated to different areas depending on their size and priority level. This will make your to-do list less daunting and more efficient.
You can instantly play Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com; simply email the game link to your team to invite them to play. In the game, the image to the right will be used as the “game board.” As with the in-person version, this graph measures the size and complexity of tasks. Assignments that players think of are represented by the note card icons found at the upper left corner of the chart. Players simply drag the icons to the game board and describe what they represent. Participants can then edit the placement and description of each notecard, which everyone can view in real time. Use the integrated chat facility and communicate with your players throughout the game to get a better understanding of each move. After the game, the results will be organized in a spread sheet to maximize the benefits of the game.
This game gets team members thinking differently about backlog items. Rather than making a scattered list of debilitating tasks, Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization arranges your accumulated undertakings according to the level of priority and effort needed to accomplish them, allowing for productive advancements.
Mitch Lacey describes this game in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice For Your First Year.
Object of Play
Innovation Ambition Matrix was inspired by the May 2012 Harvard Business Review article, “Managing Your Innovation Portfolio,” written by Monitor’s revolutionary co-partners: Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff. The productive game helps teams develop a holistic view of how to get ahead by organizing initiatives and goals based on three innovation levels: core, adjacent, and transformational. Play Innovation Ambition Matrix to clarify the ambition of a project, develop a cohesive operation rather than a scattering of competing advancements, and identify how to balance your team’s effort allocation.
Number of Players
5 – 8
Duration of Play
How to Play
1. Start by drawing a graph on a large white board or poster. Label the axes as follows:
- X-axis: “How to Win.” This is designated for the novelty of the product that you are offering to customers. Are you using existing, adding incremental, or developing new products?
- Y-axis: “Where to Play.” This measures the novelty of your customers. Will the innovation serve an existing, enter an adjacent, or create a new market?
2. Next, draw three curves within the axes as seen in the picture below to divide the chart into the three levels of innovation ambition.
- Core (closest to origin): optimize your current products for current customers (ex. make faster technology)
- Adjacent: add a new feature to your existing business (ex. create an app version of your website)
- Transformational: create breakthroughs for markets that do not currently exist
3. Pass out sticky notes and pens to your team members. Ask them to write current initiatives that they are working on and to post them in the respective area on the chart. Playing with multiple people will help identify what initiatives are being made and reveal different perspectives on how to succeed.
4. When all the initiatives and ideas are posted, discuss how to unify them so everyone is working toward the same mission. Doing so will eliminate competing developments and help everyone understand the overall goal for the innovation.
The game works best when the players are team members who have different responsibilities within the project. This will will enable the group to understand the various initiatives being made and eliminate counteractive efforts. After getting rid of competing notes, organize who on the team will be responsible for specific tasks.
While Innovation Ambition Matrix is useful to outline current efforts of the team and to clarify the ambition of a project, it can also be used for your company’s long-term goals. Identify where you want your company or team to end up and what balance of innovation levels is needed to help you get there. For instance, if you would like to maintain your company’s position in your industry, focus on core or adjacent innovations. If you need to make an impacting change to get ahead in the market, think of transformational innovations. Planning where efforts are needed will help achieve the company’s innovation ambition efficiently.
Play Innovation Ambition Matrix Online
You can instantly play Innovation Ambition Matrix online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com; simply email the game link to your team to invite them to join.
In the game, the image to the right will be used as the “game board.” As with the in-person version, the chart graphs the novelty of the company’s offerings vs. the novelty of the customers. Players will see light bulb icons in the top left corner, which represent the initiatives team members are taking and the ideas they have about future accomplishments. Simply drag the light bulbs to the matrix and describe what they represent.
Players can edit the placement and description of each light bulb, which everyone can view in real time. Use the integrated chat facility and communicate with your players throughout the game to gain a better understanding of each move. The results will be organized in a spreadsheet to maximize the benefits of the game.
A company’s survival depends on its ability to innovate and advance. However, ideas to do so often become diluted by poor management strategies. This leaves your team with a chaotic scattering of competing attempts rather than a unified innovation effort. By identifying how to allocate innovation activity, teams can strike and maintain their unique balance required for sustainable growth. Innovation Ambition Matrix helps identify this core:adjacent:transformational ratio, which enhances a team’s understanding of where to put efforts and how to unify endeavors. Also, the game helps managers survey the initiatives of their team and provides a chance to discuss the overall ambition of a project.
To learn more about Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff, and the importance of a balanced innovation profile, click here.
Object of Play:
This game helps you discover what you and your colleagues like best and least about your jobs. When doing something you love, it is easy to get lost in the activity for its own sake, which stimulates creativity and commitment to the task at hand. This can be applied to your work to make it more enjoyable and productive. With Job or Joy, participants share their favorite hobbies, tedious chores, and what they like or dislike about work. This enhances your understanding of your colleagues while uncovering ways to make work more fun.
Number of Players:
5 – 8
Duration of Play:
This gives each quadrant a specific meaning
- Quadrant 1: Joy – work activities that people enjoy (ex. conferences)
- Quadrant 2: Hobbies – activities outside of work that people enjoy (ex. reading, biking, cooking)
- Quadrant 3: Chores – activities outside of work that people don’t enjoy (ex. cleaning)
- Quadrant 4: Job – work activities that people don’t enjoy (ex. mundane office meetings)
Job and Joy (work) = external to the individual; liking of the activity depends on the situation or attributes of it
Hobbies and Chores (leisure) = internal to the individual; self-motivated activities outside of the workplace
2. Pass out sticky notes and pens to your team members. Ask them to write activities they do that apply to each of the quadrants.
3. After about 5 minutes, have your participants place their sticky notes where they feel the they belong on the chart. For instance, if someone likes cooking, they would put that in the “Hobbies” quadrant. If they don’t like cooking, they would place it in the “Chores” section. Things that people like to do at work go under “Joy” and work activities people don’t like go under “Job.”
4. Ask each person to explain the activities they wrote and why they placed it where they did. Use this discussion time to learn about each other and collaborate on how to make work more enjoyable for everyone.
The writing and discussion time should begin with activities people love to do outside of work and move to more work-oriented activities. This will help everyone think of ways to make their jobs more enjoyable while creating a fun environment.
Online Job or Joy
Start playing Job or Joy immediately online! Clicking on this image will take you to an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com, where you can invite participants to play. Here, there will be two icons:
- Happy face: what you enjoy to do
- Frown face: what you don’t enjoy to do
Simply drag these to the chart and collaborate about the moves in real time. When finished, your results are organized onto a spread sheet so you can get the most out of your game.
When people enjoy what they are doing and become engaged through self-motivation, they can push themselves to form innovative ideas and breakthroughs. Their participation is catalyzed by the activity they are involved in and they channel their personal commitment toward achieving the goal. Discover what your colleagues like/dislike to do in order to better understand who they are and how you can all maximize your joy — both during and outside of work.
NOTE: We had to postpone the January workshop to March. We hope you can still join!
Gamestorming co-author James Macanufo will be delivering a one-day workshop in Boston as part of the WorkBar Workshop series. It is going to be ‘wikkid awesome’ as they say here.
“Work Better” Part One: GAMESTORMING
MARCH 2, 2012 | 10AM – 4PM
Picture taken by Dave Gray http://www.davegrayinfo.com/
Registration details here: http://workbarworkshopsgamestorming.eventbrite.com/
In addition, there will be a happy hour the evening beforehand starting at 7pm. Sign up here: http://gamestorminghappyhour.eventbrite.com You do not need to be a registered workshop participant to attend the happy hour.
Today we are very excited to announce the release of the new Gamestorming Card Deck app for iPhone.
The Gamestorming Card Deck is drawn from the GoGamestorm.com blog, the companion website to ‘Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers’ by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and Dave Macanufo. The cards are frequently updated and will help you learn the fundamentals of visual language, how to illuminate complexities by mapping the big picture and how to use improvisation and games to innovate and solve real problems and help you feel more confident about using visualization in meetings.
The cards in this deck show you not only how to play — with images and instructions on both sides of the cards — but how to organize the games into favorites and ‘agendas’ for your meeting in the form of stacks. The stacks can be played by swiping through each of the cards as you proceed through your meeting or brainstorming session.
Here’s how it works:
After you’ve downloaded the app, click on the app icon to open the app.
You’ll see a deck of cards that you can scroll through, just like you can scroll through apps. Each card represents a game from the Games Wiki. (The app syncs with the wiki, so whenever we add new games to the wiki you can add them to your app by going to the settings menu and clicking “refresh.”). Tap a card to open that card.
You’ll see the large version of the card. If you tap the little dog-ear to the lower right the card will flip over and you can read the instructions for that game on the back of the card.
The instructions are exactly what you would see in the book or on the Games Wiki. You can scroll down to read the whole card.
There’s also a stacks menu, where you can create a stack by adding cards.
Once you have a stack, you can click “edit” to rearrange the games in the stack. Create as many stacks as you want. For example you might create one stack for a brainstorming meeting, one for a company retreat, and another for your weekly status meeting. When it’s time for the meeting just open the stack and you can quickly flip through the games in that stack.
Let the games begin!