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Draw Toast


 

Object of play
You can use the Draw Toast exercise to introduce people to the concepts of visual thinking, working memory, mental models and/or systems thinking. This also works as a nice warm-up exercise to get people engaged with each other and thinking visually. Plus, it’s fun!

Number of players
Any number of people can play this game.

Duration: 10-15 minutes.

How to play
On paper or index cards, ask people to draw “How to make toast.”

After a couple of minutes, ask people to share their diagrams with each other and discuss the similarities and differences. Ask people to share any observations or insights they have about the various drawings. You are likely to hear comments about the relative simplicity or complexity of the drawings, whether they have people in them, how technical they are, how similar or different they are, and so on.

Depending on why you are doing the exercise you may want to point out the following:

  • Note that althought the drawings are all different, they are all fundamentally correct. There are many ways to visualize information and they all enrich understanding rather than being “right” or “wrong.”
  • Although the drawings are different in content, they tend to be similar in structure. That is, most drawings of mental models tend to contain three to seven elements, connected by lines or arrows.

    Strategy
    The main point of this exercise is to demonstrate the power of visual thinking to represent information.

    Visualizations of this kind tend to be easily understandable, although they are visually as rich and diverse as people. Pictures can be fundamentally correct even though they are quite different. There is no “one right type” of visualization.

    When people visualize a mental model, they usually will include 5-7 elements, linked together by lines or arrows. The number of elements tends to correspond to the number of things people can hold in their working memory, also known as short-term memory (See The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two for more information).

    This is also a nice warm-up exercise that is fun and gets people talking to each other.

    There is an excellent TED talk by Tom Wujec which you may want to watch in preparation. It may also be useful to show to the group in sessions as a way to share insights after the exercise. Tom also has a page with ideas for extending this exercise into group problem-solving which you can find at DrawToast.com.

    The Draw Toast exercise was created by Dave Gray

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    Building partnerships

    Object of play: The partnership canvas is a tool that enables visualization of current and/or future partnerships. It can also be used for early testing of the value creating potential of a partnership between two partnership candidates. The tool’s purpose is to define your business priority for partnering, and empathize with your partner to explore whether there is potentially a match. The partnership canvas can be used as a stand-alone tool, but comes to full strategizing value when it is jointly used with the business model canvas, also available on this site.

    Bart Doorneweert & Ernst Houdkamp www.valuechaingeneration.com

    Number of players: This can be done by yourself, but preferably with 2 teams of max 5 people representing each side of the partnership. Alternatively, make multiple pairs if there are more people.


    Duration of play: 
    (60-90 min):

    – Step 1- Define intent (15 min)

    –Step 2- Design partnership (15 min/sketch)

    –Step 3- Bring teams to the negotiating table (15 min)

    –Step 4- Evaluate the negotiation results and define next steps (20 min)


    How to play

    1. Define intent
    a)    Describe the aim or goal of the partnership for your business
    b)    List what would be ideal partners to work with and why. Organize a post up. Select a top partnership candidate, or multiple candidates.
    c)    Create (multiples of) 2 teams; 1 representing your business, 1 for a potential partner’s business.

    2. Design partnership
    a)    Each team identifies their desired assets in their respective partner’s business model
    b)    Teams sketches out a partnership canvas from their own team’s perspective using stickie notes to define each building block

    3. Bring teams to the negotiating table
    a)   Each team presents their partnership canvas
    b)   Compare the two partnership canvasses by mirroring the partnership perspectives. Compare between  value offers of one team, to desired value of the other team, and whether there is mutual understanding of the transfer activities. Check for a clear fit.
    c)   Create agreement on the created value for each partner. Adapt partnership canvas and iterate step 3 if required.

    4. Evaluate the negotiation results and define next steps
    a)   Do the elements of created value provide clear added value to each partner’s business?
    b)   Define next steps to effectuate the partnership

     

    Mirroring partnership perspectives
    Mirroring partnership perspectives

    Strategy: The partnership canvas can be used to explore the idea of engaging in a partnership. A team can use the canvas to prepare for an upcoming conversation with a potential partner. Alternatively the session can be conducted jointly with a potential partner if there is already a mutual interest to explore partnering possibilities. The tool can firstly be used to determine whether there is a technical fit between two businesses. By working in teams and negotiating certain rivalry is always invoked, and teams can also get a sense of cultural fit between two partnering businesses.

    In order to obtain full strategizing value from use of the canvas, it is advised to integrally work with the business model canvas. In the end, the partnership discussion is a key step in business model innovation

     Interaction Partnership Canvas  Business Model Canvas

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    Agile UX Sketching and Scrum

    Last-Import-09-300x300“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” That was the advice of Arthur BrisbaneEditor The Syracuse Post Standard March 28, 1911. Despite originally referring to newsprint, the adage still holds true in the digital age.

    Sketching for understanding” is an efficient and effective way to gather tons of ideas in a short period of time while cultivating shared understanding across agile teams. With the right structure and active participation, sketching with Scrum teams can really pay dividends throughout the release life cycle.

    Use the following guide to help plan and facilitate your next agile sketching session. Continue reading Agile UX Sketching and Scrum

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    Innovation Generator

    Object of Play
    Innovation drives business; without it, companies would remain stationary and get trampled by the competition. Whether altering our products or creating new ones, we thrive on advancements. Scott Sehlhorst, President of Tyner Blain LLC, has illustrated a way of forming fresh ideas that solve customers’ problems by using current or potential inventions in his article “Product Managers & Innovation.” Scott’s strategy inspired the game Innovation Generator, which helps teams identify and address customer needs. The combination of value and invention provides the fuel necessary for innovation.

    Number of Players
    5 – 8

    Duration of Play
    1 hour

    How to Play

    1. Begin by giving your players post-its and markers. Draw three columns on a large white board or poster and label them as follows:
    A. Customers’/Prospective Customers’ Problems
    B. Invention/Value
    C. Innovation

    2. Ask players to think of problems that customers within your market may have. After they write all their ideas on sticky notes and post them in the first column, discuss what the issues mean for your company.

    3. Work as a group to choose about five inventions your company has or could create. Write these on post-its of a different color and put them in the second column. Ask your players to explore the values these inventions have — other than their current purposes — and to post their ideas around the invention notes in the second column. Think of how these values can resolve the problems noted in the first section. Doing so ensures that your team’s innovations focus on meeting your stakeholders’ needs.

    4. Finally, collaborate to develop new innovations by combining the inventions with their values from the second column.

    Strategy
    Focus on innovations that address the notes from column one. This will ensure that the exercise leaves you with useful information that responds to customers’ needs.

    Play Innovation Generator Online

    You can instantly play Innovation Generator online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on the image above 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 will be used as the “game board.” You will see light bulb and sticky note icons in the upper left corner. The light bulbs represent the inventions in the second column, and the sticky notes symbolize all other ideas in the three columns. Simply drag icons to the chart and describe what they represent.

    Players can edit the placement and description of each icon, 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.

    Key Points
    Using creative thinking to uncover various ways to apply a product inspires teams to develop new applications for inventions and form solutions that address stakeholders’ needs. And by identifying customer problems first, all ideas will be geared toward helping those who hold the key to your success. Whether creating new inventions or reusing past ones,  Innovation Generation is perfect for teams to brainstorm ways to help customers and stay ahead of the competition.

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    Customer-Centric

    Object of Play
    Scott Sehlhorst, President of Tyner Blain LLC, has developed an ingenious way to guide the development of your product by identifying your stakeholders. Before laying out a framework of requirements that your product must meet, it is necessary to know your most important users. Doing so not only allows you to prioritize changes based on what people will actually use, but also provides you with the opportunity to build loyal customers by addressing their needs. However, this is easier said than done, as many unidentified users are incorporated into your sphere of stakeholders indirectly through connections with those closer to the system (product). With Customer-Centric – based on Scott’s Onion Diagram in his article “How to Visualize Stakeholder Analysis” — you can peel back the layers of the ecosystem in which your customers operate and uncover those who benefit from the outputs of the system. Play this game to identify stakeholders who can give you the requirements necessary to make your product succeed.

    Number of Players
    5 – 8

    Duration of Play
    1 hour

    How to Play
    1. Start by giving your players sticky notes and pens. On a large poster or white board, draw four concentric circles and label them as follows:

    • Innermost: The product (ex. Pest Control Software)
    • 2nd: System – direct stakeholders (ex. Manager)
    • 3rd: Containing system – stakeholders of the system, even if they don’t directly interact with it (ex. Service technician)
    • 4th: Wider Environment – stakeholders outside of the environment (ex. Suppliers, customers)

    2. Work as a team to identify people that belong in each area. This requires you to think outside the box (or shall we say circle?), as each user persona will be connected to many others within the ecosystem.

    Strategy
    For further organization, you can draw arrows between personas to identify who communicates with whom; doing so will reveal the tangle of relationships originating from the system and bring attention to distant customers who use the output of the product.

    Play Customer-Centric Online

    You can instantly play Customer-Centric online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on the image above 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, the chart organizes the various people who are impacted by your product. In the upper left corner, you will see a note card icon and people icons. Begin by dragging the notecard to the center of the chart and indicating the product you are focusing on. Then, work as a team to drag the people icons to the circles and describe who they represent.

    Players can edit the placement and description of each icon, 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.

    Key Points
    One reason products fail is because teams do not solve the problems that are important to the right users. These personas are not always obvious, as they may be associated with the product through indirect connections. With Customer-Centric, you can identify the vast web of people your product impacts and explore the complex butterfly effect; doing so reveals which stakeholders are most important and what your product requirements are.

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    Facilitating with Constraints

    Many fields have long embraced constraints as necessary for creativity. Without bounding the problem you’re trying to solve, it’s difficult to see the big picture, to know where to start, or how to focus your attention – much like trying to write a paper without a thesis. Lately, there is increasing acknowledgement of the importance of constraints such as Jonah Lehrer’s Wired post highlighting the research of Janina Marguc at the University of Amsterdam.

    It turns out that constraints are also an engaging and effective way to facilitate a conversation, something I’ve learned working with designer Scott Francisco.* Whether you’re trying to balance a budget, plan a meeting, or design a building, workshop activities that make the constraints visible enable better conversations and decision-making.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. BOUNDARY: Identify the key constraint that defines the problem you’re trying to solve. For instance, the budget (money), the duration of the meeting (time), the size of the building (area). Then create a boundary like a simple square on a large sheet of paper that represents this constraint at some scale (e.g.: a 1” square = $1000, 10mins, 100 square feet, etc)

    2. GAME PIECES: Create “game pieces” that represent the different pieces your trying to decide on: different programs within the budget, different possible activities within the meeting, different spaces within the building. These can be color-coded slips of paper / cardstock / post-its. They must be at the same “scale” as the boundary so you can see the relative size of each idea or component. (This may help you realize that one proposed program would take up most of your budget, for instance.)

    3. GAME PLAY: Gather a representative group of 12 – 18 stakeholders committed to finding a solution that works by the end of the exercise. Then, play out different scenarios arranging the components to see what “fits” inside the boundary constraint. This can be as one group or with teams working in parallel then comparing and combining results. Along the way, you can discuss and document the merits of each component, the trade-offs, and other options. Do this multiple times to take the pressure off getting it right the first time and photograph each iteration so that you can compare.

    4. BONUS ROUND: As an additional option, once you’ve agreed on what fits inside the boundary constraint, you can also continue the discussion to relate the different elements by arranging the components on a sheet; for instance, which programs within the budget depend on each other? What should the sequence of meeting activities be? What spaces within the building should be next to each other?

    By making the constraints visible and tangible, you enable a better conversation and unlock the creativity of your group to solve problems together. You also have a visible record of the decisions made as well as a shared sense within the group of what’s involved, how the different components go together, and what’ve you’ve agreed on.

    ————————–

    *  Scott Francisco developed a space planning facilitation tool called the Sandbox which uses a kit of parts to try out different workplace design concepts within a limited amount of space. You can read more about it here and here. We subsequently took the principles of the Sandbox and applied it more broadly to the kinds of exercises described above.

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    2 Brains: Tell it & Sell It

    Object of Play

    Forming an attention-grabbing slogan or pitch can be difficult. Just like brain lateralization — the right hemisphere controls imagination and feelings while the left side manages facts and details – it requires the perfect balance of emotion and logic. To accurately identify this specific combination and maximize your pitch’s impact, Thomas J. Buckholtz has created 2-Brains: Tell It & Sell It. In this activity, you will include a left-brain fact (tell it) and a right-brain emotional idea (sell it) to connect the two aspects of persuasion and create a 2-brain message.

    Number of Players

    5 – 8

    Duration of Play

    30 min – 1 hour

    (The game works most effectively if it is repeated multiple times over the course of a few days.)

    How to Play

    1. Before your meeting, draw a 4×4 graph on a large white space (poster, white board, etc.). Label the vertical axis “Emotional (right brain).” Higher on the chart is for “sizzles” (great emotional ideas) and lower on the graph is for “fizzles” (negative emotional appeal). Mark the horizontal axis “Practical (left brain).” Further to the left is for negative practical uses while further to the right is for very positive practical uses. The third row on the graph represents emotionally neutral. The second column represents neutral practical appeal.

    2. Provide your players with post-its and markers. We recommend using four different colors for the four thought topics:

    • Right-brain post-its are for purely emotional.
    • Left-brain post-its are for purely practical.
    • 2-brain post-its are for emotional and practical.
    • Other post-its are for other types of ideas.

    3. Have your players write right- and left-brain ideas on the sticky notes. These can be themes (phrases) or messages (sentences). When all ideas have been written, ask the participants to stick them on the chart. Right-brain (emotional) ideas likely should be placed close to practical-neutral while left-brain ideas (logical) likely should go near emotional-neutral.

    4. Collaborate to form as many 2-brain messages as you can by combining the right- and left-brain messages. Write these new messages on sticky notes and place them in appropriate (likely upper-right) squares.

    Strategy

    Maintain a fun, positive environment so players will feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Encourage random creativity and give players breaks to keep them from burning out. Motivate people to build from each other’s ideas to create a perfect slogan or pitch.

    As you play the game, continue to modify the sticky notes to reflect improved ideas. You can also add post-its to show new concepts or major breakthroughs. Organize the notes to portray the relative ranking of the ideas. Remember to document or take a picture of your chart at the end so you can refer back to the notes.

    It is important to play this game multiple times over the course of a few days so players can improve on ideas. Keep the chart up so participants can consider how to combine the right- and left- brain ideas to make the most effective pitch.

    Play Online

    You can play 2-Brains: Tell It & Sell It instantly online! Clicking on the image to the right will bring you to an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. The image will be used as the “game board,” which organizes the level of emotion and practicality of players’ thoughts. You will find a yellow sticky note icon at the upper left corner of the chart. Participants drag the sticky notes onto the board and describe what they represent. The layers and regions in the game will keep track of where the notes are placed.

    Players can edit the placement and description of each sticky note, 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.

    Key Points

    The purpose of a slogan or pitch is to catch the attention of your audience, which is easier said than done. The visual organization in 2-Brains: Tell It & Sell It perfectly reflects the balance of the right- and left- brain ideas needed to capture your listener’s interest, and the extensive collaboration involved introduces multiple perspectives and ideas. By combining emotional and factual ideas, you can form a “sizzling” pitch that radiates compelling practicality.

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    Actions for Retrospectives

    Object of Play
    Analyzing past events can get repetitive, leading to a lack of creative ideas and dulled critical thinking. Without an engaging strategy, you could get stuck in a pit of unproductive ideas, causing you to lose all sense of direction and become blind to areas needing improvement. To resist this useless slump, Actions for Retrospectives, based on Nick Oostvogel’s Actions Centered, allows teams to examine multiple aspects of an event or project in order to form original ideas on how it can be enhanced in the future. Break free from the barriers of boring retrospective analysis strategies to discover how you can make your next project, meeting, conference, etc., a success.

    Number of Players
    5 – 8

    Duration of Play
    1 hour

    How to Play
    1. Start by drawing a large 2×2 matrix with a square labeled “Actions” in the middle; this is designated for the changes that the team commits to making as a result of the retrospective. The four quadrants surrounding it represent different aspects of your event:

    • Puzzles: Questions for which you have no answer
    • Risks: Future pitfalls that can endanger the event
    • Appreciations: What you liked during the previous iteration
    • Wishes: Not improvements, but ideas of your ideal event

    2. Provide the players with pens and sticky notes, preferably different colored notes for each quadrant. Have the participants write their ideas for “Appreciations,” “Puzzles,” “Risks,” and “Wishes” one category at a time, allowing 5 – 10 minutes for each section.  
    3. Once players have written all their thoughts, ask them to post their notes on the chart. As a team, go through the ideas and cluster related ones together.
    4. Discuss the novelty, feasibility, and impact of the ideas, and collaborate to analyze how they can be applied to the next event. Use this process to create practical, efficient “Actions” in the middle.

    Strategy
    There are many techniques you can use to amplify the benefits of this game. For instance, making players feel comfortable sharing their ideas is crucial to attaining high-quality results. One way to do so is to describe “Risks” as possible improvements, rather than negative aspects that could ruin the event. This will encourage participants to share their ideas about what should be done to ensure the success of the event without them feeling as though they are criticizing others. Also, to increase players’ concentration, you can wait to write and describe the titles of each section until just before it is time to think of ideas related to them. This will force players to focus on one category at a time. Don’t forget to create a playful environment so participants will let their thoughts flow and form higher quality ideas.

    Actions for Retrospective has many applications in the business world. It can also be used for any product, service, or section of your company to identify how they can be improved. Take advantage of the game’s organized format and extensive collaboration to advance toward your potential.

    Play Online
    Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. Here, this image will be used as the “game board,” and there will be five different icons that players can drag onto the chart and describe to capture their ideas.

    • Puzzles = question marks
    • Risks = bombs
    • Appreciations = smiley faces
    • Wishes = stars

    As with the in-person version, the chart is divided into five quadrants for the five categories of thoughts.

    All moves can be seen in real time by each participant, so everyone can collaborate to edit the ideas. Also, you can use the integrated chat facility to encourage the players to expand on their ideas and come up with fresh insights.

    Key Points
    This unique strategy involves teamwork and spatial organization so your group can think differently about retrospectives and brainstorm changes for progress. Also, by writing thoughts down and working together, participants will be more comfortable providing ideas for how to improve the event rather than feeling as if they are criticizing past ideas. Play Actions for Retrospectives to reflect on the past in order to advance toward the future.

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    Prune The Future

    Object of Play

    People who work in large organizations know that most change doesn’t happen immediately or in broad sweeps. It happens incrementally by taking small, strategic steps.  Prune the Future uses a tree as a metaphor to show how the future of anything can be shaped,one leaf at a time.

    Number of Players

    5–15

    Duration of Play

    30 minutes

    How to Play

    1. Before the meeting, cut a few dozen sticky notes or index cards into the shapes of leaves. Then, in a white space that will be visible to the players, draw a large tree with enough thick limbs to represent multiple categories of the future.  Write the general topic under or above the tree.

    2. Tell the group that the inner part of the treetop represents current states of the topic and moving outward means moving toward the future.  For example, if the topic is about growing the customer base, the inner leaves would represent the current customer demographics and the outer leaves would represent future or desired customer demographics.

    3. Ask the players to write current aspects of the topic—one idea per leaf—on the leaves and stick them on the inside of the treetop.  Remove any redundant comments and cluster similar comments, with the group’s guidance, near the appropriate branches.

    4. Next, ask the players to write aspects of the future on new leaves. These can be future states or variables already in progress, or simply potentials and possibilities.

    5. Tell the players to “prune” the future by posting their leaves around the treetop, related to the categories of the limbs.  If you’d like, add thin or thick branches within to show relationships and let the tree grow in a natural way. If it grows asymmetrically, let that be.

    6. With the players, discuss the shape of tree that emerges. Which branches have the most activity? Which areas don’t seem to be experiencing growth? Where do the branches appear to be most connected? The most disconnected?

    Strategy

    The picture of the tree is the working metaphor for this game—it represents the roots of the topic, the branches of the topic, and, of course, the topic’s growth potential.  This game is broadly applicable because you can use a tree as a metaphor for virtually any aspect of your organization that you wish to grow or shape.  The topic can be a product whose future features you want to brainstorm.  It can be a team whose future roles and responsibilities you want to plan.  Or you could use this game to discuss the marketplace and show where the players think it is changing or growing.

    When the players start to shape the outer treetop, encourage them to “go out on a limb” with their ideas for the future. This game is about possibilities—realistic and otherwise.  And if someone requests fruit on the tree to represent ROI, draw apples where they should be. If the players request another tree (or even a grove!), draw quick rudimentary trees and let the players start adding leaves, following the original procedure. This game works well because it allows for a nonlinear, organic representation of what is likely a complex topic.  It results in a visual display of the interconnectedness of future conditions;  showing where some parts of the tree may be suffering while others are thriving.

    The Prune the Future game is based on the Prune the Product Tree activity in Luke Hohmann’s book, Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play.

    Online Prune the Product Tree

    Prune the Product TreeGet started right away by playing Prune the Product Tree online! One of the important aspects of this game is tailoring the image – and meaning – of the tree to match the goals of your game. To illustrate online play, we’re going to use an “Event Benefits Tree”.

    Clicking on this image will start an events benefits “instant play” game at innovationgames.com that is useful in evaluating the benefits of attending a conference. In the game, there will be three icons that you can drag onto your Product Tree:

    • Red Apples: Benefits you expected and got.
    • Rotten Apples: Benefits you expected but didn’t get.
    • Presents: Unexpected benefits that made the conference great.

    The multi-layered regions of this tree are designed to capture a variety of information about these benefits. Where did the players receive these benefits (at the conference or at work)? What was the nature of the benefit (personal or professional)? And what about the conference infrastructure – the roots of the tree (before the conference or after the conference)? By exploring these dimensions with players, you can create better conferences in the future.

    Don’t forget that this a collaborative game that allows you to invite other players to play. And when they drag something around – you will see it in real time! Of course, you will want to create your own trees after you’ve explored this one.