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35

Object of Play

This game has been designed to help prioritize different ideas or items in a quick and energetic way without getting stuck in endless discussions and avoiding any kind of influencing. It is similar to 20-20 game as it will compare items in pairs.

Number of players: 4 – 50

Duration: 15-45 minutes depending on the group size and items at hand.

How to play

  1. Organize or facilitate another game to generate items that require prioritization.
  2. Ask all attendees to put the items at hand in the middle of the group of people, one by one and shortly explaining the item at hand.
  3. When all items are in the middle of the group let each one of the attendees select their “Top”, “Most Important” item out of the pile and do this one person at the time. If their top item is gone then they could take their second, third… option out of the list, purpose it that everybody has 1 card at hand. (With a small group let them take 2).
  4. Now instruct the people to mingle amongst each other and find a partner in order to form pairs. Shortly discuss how to spread 7 points amongst the 2 items at hand with the 2 of them and add those points on the back of the card.
  5. Let the people take each others card and find another partner for a second round of weighting cards with each other.
  6. Do this 5 times (5 times 7 = 35)!
  7. Summarize all different weights to a single figure and sort highest number on top and so on…

Note: Even when the group does this a second time with the same items and interest at hand the sorting will be the same but figures might differ a bit.

Strategy

Getting a group consensus about priorities between different related items is not easy and 35 will give them an easy way to effectively and repeatedly prioritize items according the groups consensus. The technique is build in such a way that people can not cheat the system and influence the outcomes as you compare, weight items related to each other. By constantly changing cards from hands and switching from partners one is can never influence the outcome. A great way to achieve a fast consensus about the priority of the items at hand.

 

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Question Balloons

Object of Play
Planning to accept and respond to questions is one of the most difficult parts of running a meeting, a workshop, or a presentation. Will there be enough time for Q&A? Is the audience willing to ask questions? How many questions will they ask? Do I take questions at the end or throughout? How do I know if questions were answered in a useful way?

To address this challenge, the Question Balloons game allows attendees to ‘float’ their questions throughout a meeting or presentation; providing a visual status that helps manage group energy.

Number of Players
4 to 40

Duration of Play
Any length

How to Play

  1. Start by providing a marker and one or two helium-filled balloons to each attendee. The balloons must have strings that will allow the attendees to float the balloons and then retrieve them (from the ceiling, if necessary) when needed.
  2. Ask each attendee to write their questions about the scheduled topic on a balloon and then float the balloon. Only write one question per balloon. It’s okay to save balloons for later. Question Balloons can be floated at any time during the presentation or meeting.
  3. During any free time (pre-meeting, breaks, or lunch), the speaker or leader should walk around and read the Question Balloons, getting a feel for the questions that will arise.
  4. Inform all attendees that they should pop their Question Balloons – loudly – whenever one of their questions is answered sufficiently. This answer might come from meeting materials, slides, a speaker, or a casual conversation. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the session, any remaining Question Balloons will be addressed.
  5. When a question is answered, the corresponding balloon will pop. Some people will jump. That’s okay. The leader/facilitator should acknowledge that we have answered a question and lead applause. Some participants will float new Question Balloons throughout the session. That’s good.
  6. When the content or topic is completed, there will usually be two types of Question Balloons remaining. The first type is informational (When is the product being released? Who wants to share a ride home? How much is that service?). Answer these first. If there is no answer available, assign the question to the responsible party. The second type of question you’ll see is opinion (What is the best approach? How should I handle my customer?). These should be posed to the room. Instruct the person who floated the question to pop their balloon when they received information, from anyone, that will help them move forward.

Strategy
Question Balloons are very effective for meetings loaded with content, like reviews and status meetings. For organizations that might be too conservative for balloon popping, sticky notes on a wall will also work. We recommend using balloons for special events, not for a weekly status meeting.

Key Points
The Question Balloons game gives power to meeting attendees, control to the facilitator, and feedback to both. It leverages visual and kinesthetic information through balloon floating and popping. It uses the mechanism of elimination to score how many questions get answered. Attendees can see that their questions will be answered. Play Question Balloons when you want to better manage group energy.

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20/20 Vision

Object of Play

The 20/20 Vision game is about getting group clarity around which projects or initiatives should be more of a priority than others. Because employees’ attention is so often divided among multiple projects, it can be refreshing to refocus and realign more intently with the projects that have the biggest bang for the buck.  And defining the “bang” together helps ensure that the process of prioritization is quality.

Number of Players

5–10

Duration of Play

30 minutes to 1.5 hours

How to Play

  1. Before the meeting, write any proposed project or initiative relevant to the players on sticky notes, one item per note.  And when you begin, it’s important that the initiatives you’ve written on the sticky notes are posted in random order during both stages of the game.  Shuffle them before the meeting starts—you can even blind-post or ask a player to post—so that from the onset there is no implicit prioritization on your part.
  2. Introduce the game by explaining to the players that 20/20 Vision is about forced prioritization based on perceived benefits. Verbalize the importance of building consensus on priorities to move the organization forward.
  3. In a wall space visible to the players, post an initiative and ask the players to describe its benefits. Write their descriptions on a sticky note posted next to that initiative. If there’s disagreement around the benefits of an initiative, write down both or all of the points made. Assume that there’s validity to multiple perspectives and let the group indicate the majority perspective through the ranking process. If the group already has a shared sense of the benefits for each initiative, don’t spend a lot of time clarifying them. Just move into prioritization and respond to questions around benefits as they organically come up.
  4. Repeat step 3 for all relevant projects or initiatives until the benefits have been thoroughly described by the players, captured on sticky notes and posted.
  5. Ask the players if any initiatives are missing from the wall. If so, request that they write them down, post them, and discuss their benefits so that you can capture them.
  6. Move into a neighboring wall space, pull down two random initiatives and ask the players which they can agree are more or less important to the organization’s vision or goals.
  7. Post the one that the group generally agrees is more important above the one they generally agree is less important.
  8. Move another initiative into the new space. Ask the players if it is more or less important than the two posted and post it accordingly—higher priorities at the top, lower priorities at the bottom.
  9. Repeat this process until all initiatives have been thoroughly discussed and prioritized.

Strategy

20/20 Vision is about asking players to thoughtfully evaluate priorities as a group. The first phase of the game—describing and capturing the benefits—is significant because it lays the groundwork for the hard part: determining priorities. It can be challenging to get a group to rank its projects, all of which seem important in some way.

The game works best if you can facilitate general agreement around the benefits and resist the temptation to let the group waffle on prioritizing. They must make the hard decisions. And when the going gets tough, take heart: the players who resist ranking the most may also offer a wealth of insight into the initiatives and ultimately help the players better refine the final ranking.

20/20 Vision is based on and adapted from the same-named activity in Luke Hohmann’s book, Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play.

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NUF Test

Object of Play

As a group is developing ideas in a brainstorming session, it may be useful to do a quick “reality check” on proposed ideas. In the NUF Test, participants rate an idea on three criteria: to what degree is it New, Useful, and Feasible?

Number of Players

Small group

Duration of Play

Short; 15–30 minutes, depending on the size of the group and the level of discussion

How to Play

Set up the game by quickly creating a matrix of ideas against the criteria:

  • New: Has the idea been tried before? An idea will score higher here if it is significantly different from approaches that have come before it. A new idea captures attention and possibility.
  • Useful: Does the idea actually solve the problem? An idea that solves the problem completely, without creating any new problems, will score better here.
  • Feasible: Can it be done? A new and useful idea still has to be weighed against its cost to implement. Ideas that require fewer resources and effort to be realized will score better here.

To play, the group rates each idea from 1 to 10 for each criterion and tallies the results.  A group may choose to write down scores individually at first and then call out their results on each item and criterion to create the tally. Scoring should be done quickly, as in a “gut” check.

A discussion after the scores have been tallied may uncover uncertainties about an idea or previously under rated ideas. The group may then choose to make an idea stronger, as in “How do we make this idea more feasible with fewer resources?”

Strategy

The goal of this game is to check big ideas against the realities they will face after the meeting is over. It is not intended to “kill” good ideas, but to identify possible weak points so that they can be shaped and improved before seeing the light of day.

The NUF Test is an adaptation of a testing process used for patents.