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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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    Carousel

    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

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Quickly introduce the topic at hand and go through the questions of each flip-chart, making sure everybody understands the questions correctly.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Give each group 2-3min time to add their information and rotate to the next flip-chart (clock-wise or counter clock-wise)
    7. Repeat until each group has answered all the questions.
    8. 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.

    Strategy

    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.

    Gamestorming Training - 3396

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    6-8-5

    Object of Play

    Rarely are ideas born overnight. And for an idea to become a great idea, it takes considerable work and effort to develop. Part of the reason we end up with under-developed ideas is that we stick with the first good idea we have — rather than taking the time to explore complementary approaches. 6-8-5 is designed to combat this pattern by forcing us to generate lots of ideas in a short period of time. The activity can then be repeated to hone & flesh out a few of the best ideas.

    Number of Players
    2+

    Duration of Play
    5 minutes to play each round
    15-20 minutes for discussion

    How to Play
    1. Before the meeting, prepare several sheets of paper with a 2×2 or 2×3 grid. You want to create boxes big enough for players to sketch their ideas in, but small enough to constrain them to one idea per box. Prepare enough paper for everyone to have about 10 boxes per round.

    2. As the group is gathering, distribute sheets of paper to each player. Or instruct the group on how to make their own 2×2 grid by drawing lines in their notebook.

    3. Introduce the game and remind players of the objective for the meeting. Tell players that the goal with 6-8-5 is to generate between 6-8 ideas (related to the meeting objective) in 5 minutes.

    4. Next, set a timer for 5 minutes.

    5. Tell the players to sit silently and sketch out as many ideas as they can until the timer ends — with the goal of reaching 6-8 ideas. The sketches can and should be very rough — nothing polished in this stage.

    6. When the time runs out, the players should share their sketches with the rest of the group. The group can ask questions of each player, but this is not a time for a larger brainstorming session. Make sure every player presents his/her sketches.

    7. With time permitting, repeat another few rounds of 6-8-5. Players can further develop any ideas that were presented by the group as a whole or can sketch new ideas that emerged since the last round. They can continue to work on separate ideas, or begin working on the same idea. But the 5-minute sketching sprint should always be done silently and independently.

    Strategy
    6-8-5 is intended to help players generate many ideas in succession, without worrying about the details or implementation of any particular idea. It’s designed to keep players on task by limiting them to sketch in small boxes and work fast in a limited amount of time. 6-8-5 can be used on any product or concept that you want to brainstorm, and have the best results with a heterogenous group (people from product, marketing, engineering, design…).

    6-8-5 works great in the early stages of the ideation process, and are often followed by a debrief and synthesis session or by another gamestorming exercise to identify the most fruitful ideas given the team’s business, product, or end-user goals.

    6-8-5 has been used in design studio workshops for rapid ideation. This game is credited to Todd Zaki Warfel.

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    Staple Yourself To Something

    Object of Play

    The goal of this game is to explore or clarify a process by following an object through its flow. Through this exercise, a group will create a memorable, visual story of their core process. After it is completed, this artifact can be used to identify opportunities to improve or educate others involved in the process. The notion of “stapling yourself to an order” comes from process improvement, but can be useful in a variety of scenarios. A group with no documented process, or an overly complex one, will benefit from the exercise.  If the process is taking too long, or if no one seems to know how the work gets done, it’s time to staple yourself to something and see where it goes.

    Number of Players

    2–10

    Duration of Play

    1–2 hours

    How to Play

    1. The group must have an idea of what their object is, the “bouncing ball” that they will follow through the process.  It’s best to decide on this in advance.  Some example objects could be a product, a trouble ticket, or an idea.  A familiar example of this type of flow is “How a bill becomes a law.”
    2. Introduce the exercise by drawing the object.  The goal is to focus on telling the story of this one object from point A to point B.  Write these commonly understood starting and ending points on the wall.
    3. Ask participants to brainstorm a list of the big steps in the process and record them on the wall.  If needed, ask them to prioritize them into a desired and workable number of steps.  For a high-level story, look to capture seven steps.
    4. Before you start to follow the object, work out with the group the vital information you are looking to capture in the story.  Ask:  in each step of the process, what do we need to know?  This may be the people involved, the action they’re taking, or the amount of time a step takes.
    5. Now it’s time to draw.  The group will tell the story of the object as it moves from step to step.  As much as possible, capture the information visually, as though you were taking a picture of what they are describing.  Some useful tools here include stick figures, arrows, and quality questions.  Questions that produce an active voice in the answer, as in “Who does what here?” will be more concrete and visual. Other good questions include “What’s next?” and “What’s important?”
    6. Be aware that the story will want to branch, loop, and link to other processes, like a river trying to break its banks.  Your job is to navigate the flow with the group and keep things moving toward the end.

    Strategy

    Use the object as a focusing device.  Any activity that is not directly related to the forward motion of the object can be noted and then tied off.

    If possible, add a ticking clock to the story to help pace the flow.  If the object needs to get to the end by a certain time, use this to your advantage by introducing it up front and referencing it as needed to keep up the momentum and interest of the story.

    One trap to be aware of is that participants may move between the way things are and the way they want them to be.  Be clear with the group about what state in time—today or the desired future—you are capturing.

    Does the process have an owner? If someone is responsible for the process, you can use this person’s expertise, but be cautious not to let her tell the entire story. This can be a learning experience for her as well, if she listens to the participants describe “their version” of the story.

    There are many ways of conducting a “day in the life” type of visualization. This version of the game is credited to James Macanufo.

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    SQUID

    Object of Play

    When exploring an information space, it’s important for a group to know where they are at any given time.  What have we covered, and what did we leave behind?  By using SQUID, a group charts out the territory as they go and can navigate accordingly.  SQUID stands for Sequential Question and Insight Diagram.  It is created progressively over the course of a meeting with sticky notes, capturing questions and answers as the group moves through the space. It is flexible and will move and grow with the discussion, but it also needs to “breathe” by moving between its critical modes of questions and answers.

    Number of Players

    Small groups

    Duration of Play

    30 minutes provides optimum productivity

    How to Play

    1. Reserve a large area of a whiteboard or several flip charts to create the SQUID.  Participants are given two colors of sticky notes to work with, one for questions and one for answers.

    2. Start to build the diagram by writing the group’s core topic on a sticky note.  Put this in the center of the space.

    • Question mode:  To open the exercise, ask individuals to generate a question that is their “best guess” on how to approach the topic.  They capture this on a color-coded sticky note, and share it with the group by posting it adjacent to the center of the SQUID.  The questions should immediately offer a few different routes of inquiry, and participants will likely start offering thoughts on answers.
    • Answer mode:  Similar to question mode, participants write their “best answers” on color-coded sticky notes.  They share them with the group by posting these notes adjacent to the relevant question and connect them with a line.  They may answer more than one question, and they may answer one question with multiple answers.  As a rule, answers should be succinct enough to fit on one note.

    After a discussion, the group then moves back into question mode, generating questions based on the last round of answers. Participants may focus on earlier parts of the SQUID as well. The process repeats over the course of the discussion.

    Strategy

    Keeping with the current mode and not crossing questions with answers requires discipline that can only be acquired by a group through time. By working in this way, a group will train itself on the value of a systematic, rhythmic movement through unknown information, in contrast with a meandering group discussion. The SQUID itself is, of course, utterly flexible and will grow as the group directs it.

    The SQUID game is credited to James Macanufo.

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    Speed Boat

    Object of Play

    Speedboat is a short and sweet way to identify what your employees or clients don’t like about your product/service or what’s standing in the way of a desired goal.  As individuals trying to build forward momentum on products or projects, we sometimes have blind spots regarding what’s stopping us. This game lets you get insight from stakeholders about what they think may be an obstacle to progress.

    Number of Players

    5–10

    Duration of Play

    30 minutes

    How to Play

    1. In a white space visible to the players, draw a boat with anchors attached and name the boat after the product/service or goal under discussion.  This picture is the metaphor for the activity—the boat represents the product/service or goal and the anchors represent the obstacles slowing the movement toward a desired state.
    2. Write the question under discussion next to the boat. For example, “What are the features you don’t like about our product?” or “What’s standing in the way of progress toward this goal?”
    3. Introduce Speedboat as a game designed to show what might be holding a product/service or goal back.  Ask the players to review the question and then take a few minutes to think about the current features of the product/service or the current environment surrounding the goal.
    4. Next, ask them to take 5–10 minutes and write the features of the product/service they don’t like or any variables that are in the way on sticky notes.  If you’d like, you can also ask the players to estimate how much faster the boat would go (in miles or kilometers per hour) without those “anchors” and add that to their sticky notes.
    5. Once they are finished, ask them to post the sticky notes on and around the anchors in the picture.  Discuss the content on each sticky note and look for observations, insights, and “ahas”.  Notice recurring themes, because they can show you where there’s consensus around what’s holding you back.

    Strategy

    This game is not about kicking off a complaint parade.  It’s designed to gather information about improvements or ambitions, so be careful to frame it as such. Tell the players that the intention is to reveal less-than-desirable conditions so that you can be empowered to move the product/service or goal toward an improved state.

    That being said, be aware of the fact that many groups have a tendency to move immediately toward analysis of an improved state. They shift into problem-solving mode. However,doing so disrupts the nature of this game play. After the activity, it’s probable that you won’t have all the information or the right stakeholders to respond to the challenges comprehensively.  So, if you hear the players critiquing or analyzing the content, gently tell them that problem solving is for another game—try to keep their attention focused solely on description, not solution.

    Speedboat is based on the same-named activity in Luke Hohmann’s book, Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play.

    Online Speed Boat Game

    Here is another image of the Speed Boat Game. But this one is special – clicking on the image to the right, will start an “instant play” game at www.innovationgames.com. In this game, there will be icons that you can drag on your online Speed Boat Board:

    • Anchors represent what is preventing your product or service from being as successful as it could be.

    This metaphorical game can be altered to suit your needs. For example, Jonathan Clark’s Speed Plane uses an airplane instead of a boat and replaces anchors with luggage. Customizing the game will make it more relatable to your business and can result in more valuable feedback.

    Keep in mind that that this is a collaborative game. This means that you can invite other players to play. And when they drag something around – you’ll see it in real time!

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    Virtuous Cycle

    Object of Play

    The goal of this game is to discover opportunities to transform an existing, linear process into a more valuable and growing process by taking a different viewpoint. This is useful in examining processes that are deemed “worth repeating,” such as the customer experience.

    It might be a good time to play through this exercise if the current process is transactional,compartmentalized, or wasteful. Other indications are a group that is “navel gazing” and focused primarily on its internal process, or when there is a sense that after the process is complete, no one knows what happens next.

    Possible outcomes include that the group may uncover new growth and improvement opportunities in an existing process by “bending it back into itself.”

    Number of Players

    3–10

    Duration of Play

    1–3 hours

    How to Play

    You will need a high-level understanding or documentation of the current state of things. Any existing, linear process will work.

    1. Introduce the exercise by “black boxing” the current process. This means that during the course of the exercise the group’s focus will be on what’s outside the process,not the fine detail of what’s going on inside the box.
    2. To make this visual, give each step in the process a box on the wall (medium-sized sticky notes work well) and connect them with arrows in a linear fashion.
    3. To start the exercise, ask the group to think about, to the best of their knowledge, what happens before the process: Who or what is involved? What is going on?  Repeat this for the end of the process: What comes after the process? What are the possible outcomes?
    4. You may ask them to capture their thoughts on sticky notes and post them before and after the process.
    5. Next, draw a loop from the end of the linear process back to its starting point. By doing this you are turning a linear process into a life cycle. Ask: “To get from here,and back again, what needs to happen? What’s missing from the picture?
    6. The group is ready to explore possibilities and opportunities. Again, sticky notes work well for capturing ideas. Have the players capture their thoughts along the line and discuss.

    Summarize or close the exercise by generating a list of questions and areas to explore.  This may include looking at the internal, defined process for improvement ideas.

    Strategy

    Pick the right process to do this with. A process that warrants repeating, such as the customer experience, works well.  Knowledge creation and capture, as well as strategic planning, are also candidates.

    Get the right people in the room. Some awareness of what happens outside the process is needed, but can also hamper the experience. One of the biggest potential outcomes is a visceral change in perspective on the participants’ part: from internal focus to external focus.

    This game is credited to James Macanufo.

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    Flip It

    Object of Play

    Often, a change in a problem or situation comes simply from a change in our perspectives.  Flip It! is a quick game designed to show players that perspectives are made, not born. We can choose to see the glass as either half full or half empty, but often when we perceive it as half full, we get better results. This game is at its best when players begin to see challenges as opportunities and to make doable suggestions around solving problems rather than just rehashing them.

    Number of Players

    5–20

    Duration of Play

    30 minutes to 1 hour

    How to Play

    1. Before the meeting, hang four to eight sheets of flip-chart paper on a wall (as shown in the following figure), and on any sheet in the top row, write the name of the game.
    2. On the bottom-left sheet write the word “FEAR”.  If you’d like, spend time drawing a representation of fear on the sheets beforehand or cut out an image from a magazine that embodies it. Tell the group that Flip It is about the future—of their department, their organization, their product/service, whatever topic you have agreed on beforehand.
    3. Ask the players to quietly spend 5–10 minutes writing concerns, issues, and fears about the topic on sticky notes. Remind them to be honest about their fears because this game gives them an opportunity to reframe their fears. Collect and post the sticky notes on the FEAR sheets, which are all the sheets along the bottom row.  Discuss the content with the group and ask for volunteers to elaborate on their contributions.
    4. On the top-left sheet write the word “HOPE”. Ask the players to survey the content in the FEAR row and try to “flip” the perspectives by reframing in terms of hope.Give them 10–15 minutes to generate sticky notes that respond to the fears.
    5. With the group, collect and post the second set of sticky notes on the HOPE sheets along the top row.
    6. Discuss the content with the group and ask for volunteers to elaborate on their contributions. Ask the players to dot vote next to the hopes they can take practical action on. With the group, observe the hopes that won the most votes.
    7. Write the word “TRACTION” on another sheet of flip-chart paper. Rewrite (or remove and restick) the hopes that won the most votes on the TRACTION sheet.  Ask the players to brainstorm aloud any actionable items related to each hope. Write them down and discuss.

    Strategy

    Because Flip It starts with FEARS, as the meeting leader you’ll need to reassure folks early on that they’re not going to wallow in their fears. They just need to spend sometime generating fears in order to gather information and get the game moving. You can model the flip-it behavior by opening the game with an example of a situation you chose to perceive one way or the other. Once the group writes down their fears and posts them on the wall, let them air any related thoughts and then spend the majority of the time flipping the fears into positive outcomes. You want the group to see concerns (even if it’s a momentary view) as a chance to be hopeful and get motivated around action.

    If you’re working with a larger group or if the group generates an abundant amount of sticky notes, use the sorting and clustering technique and generate representative categories for each cluster. Then ask the group to vote on those categories and use them during the TRACTION activity. Unless directed otherwise, the issues provided by the group will likely focus on both internal and external factors. If you don’t want the play to be that all-encompassing, establish a boundary going in.

    • Optional activity: Ask for volunteers to write their initials next to the practical actions they could support. Tell them it’s not an intractable commitment, just an indication of where their interest lies.

    The source of the Flip It game is unknown.

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    Wizard Of Oz

    Object of Play

    In this role-play exercise, two people prototype a machine–human interaction. The user talks to another who is “behind the curtain,” playing the role of the machine. They may use a script to uncover breaking points in an existing design, or improvise to work out a completely new idea.

    Number of Players

    2, plus observers

    Duration of Play

    30 minutes or more

    How to Play

    If a group is testing an existing design, they should prepare a script that outlines the responses and actions that the machine can take. The “wizard” will use this—and only this—to react to the user. For example, a group that is designing an ATM interface would write a script of information presented to the user and the responses that it understands in return.

    If a group is improvising, they can just get started. To open the exercise, the two players should be visually separated from each other. This is the “curtain” that keeps them from inadvertently passing cues or other information to each other. They may be separated by a piece of cardboard, or they may simply turn their backs to each other.

    The easiest way to play through the exercise is for the user to initiate some task that she wants to accomplish. As the two players play through the experience, they should look for problems, frustration points, or opportunities to do the unexpected. Essentially, the user should challenge the machine, and the machine should stick to what it knows.

    Strategy

    This technique’s application has grown beyond voice control, as the “curtain” simultaneously eliminates assumptions about the machine and surfaces what the user wants to do and how she wants to do it.

    The technique was pioneered in the 1970s, in the early design and testing of the now-common airport kiosk, and in IBM’s development of the “listening typewriter.” In these cases, the technique is taken even further: the person playing the machine would interpret voice commands from a user and manipulate a prototype of the system accordingly, like the invisible “wizard” in The Wizard of Oz.

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    Help Me Understand

    Object of Play

    Help Me Understand is based on the underlying (and accurate) assumption is that employees come to meetings with widely different questions around a topic or a change.It assumes leadership can anticipate some questions and concerns but can’t possibly anticipate them all. No one knows the questions employees have better than the employees themselves, so this game gives them a chance to externalize what’s on their minds and have leadership be responsive in a setting outside the once-a-year leadership retreat. It also allows the players to discover overlaps with other players’ questions and to notice the frequency with which those questions occur—something they may not have known prior to the meeting. It lets some sunshine in around a project, initiative, or change so that employees—who have to implement that change—have fewer lingering questions.

    Number of Players

    5–25

    Duration of Play

    30 minutes to 1.5 hours

    How to Play

    1. In a large white space visible to all the players, write the topic of the meeting and the following words as headers across the top: “WHO?”, “WHAT?”, “WHEN?”,“WHERE?”, and “HOW?”. Give all players access to sticky notes and markers.
    2. Tell the players that the goal of the game is to help leadership understand and be responsive to any and all questions around the topic.
    3. Start with the question “WHO?” and give the players five minutes to silently write down as many questions as they can that begin with the word WHO.
    4. Ask the players to post all of their questions in the white space under WHO? and then ask for a couple of volunteers to cluster the questions according to topical similarity.
    5. Bring the largest clusters to the group’s attention—circle them if you prefer—and ask leadership to offer a response to the most common questions in the clusters and to any outlier questions that look interesting.
    6. Repeat this process for the remaining four header questions, each time asking leadership to respond to the questions that seem the most salient to the group.
    7. When the meeting closes, gather all of the questions so that leadership has the opportunity to review them later and respond to important questions that weren’t covered during the meeting.

    Strategy

    As the group leader, you can conduct this game in different ways. One way is to ask the five questions back to back, with the players creating sticky notes for all five questions—WHO?, WHAT?, WHEN?, WHERE?, and HOW?—and then posting and clustering them during the first half of the meeting. After they’ve completed that part of the game, the players ask leadership to address the major clusters during the second half of the meeting. Another approach is to let leadership intersperse responses while the players tackle the header questions one at a time. There are benefits to both approaches.

    The first approach allows the players to write questions uninterrupted by content from and reactions to leadership. It also allows leadership to save some time since they only technically need to attend the second half of the session. The second approach breaks up the flow a bit but will inevitably affect the types of questions the players ask since they’re getting information from leadership as they go. Choose what’s appropriate based on your knowledge of the group.

    During the clustering part of the game, you may want to write emergent themes near each cluster to give leadership summaries of where their employees’ attention is. This is also helpful for the players to reinforce that they have shared concerns. The themes should be one- to three-word phrases summarizing the general content of the clusters. And as the meeting leader, encourage employees to make the most of this game since it presents an unusual opportunity for them to pose real, substantive questions directly to their company leaders.

    This game is an adaptation of WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE and HOW from The Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making by Sam Kaner. In his book, Kamen notes that his use of this tool was inspired by an exercise called “Five W’s and H” in Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, Second Edition, by A. B. Van Gundy, Jr., p. 46.