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Gamestorming in London

Design Jams are one- or two-day events where people get together to learn, collaborate and hone their design skills while working on real-life problems. On February 26, a group of people got together to design a mobile service. I wasn’t lucky enough to be there, but since I’m following the #gamestorming hashtag on Twitter I came across some great articles describing how they used gamestorming to get some great results out of the day:

My First Design Jam by Will Myddelton

Design Jam 2: A More Structured Design Process by Eewei

Design Jam London 2: Post-Mortem by Aral Balkan

Design Jam London 2: Same 9 Hours, 1 Brand New Challenge by Desigan Chinniah

Design Jam London 2 by Shek Man Tang

Thanks everyone for the blog posts. They help give a tangible sense of what the event felt like.

 

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TEDx Austin – Lo Tech Social Network (p. 105 of Gamestorming)

As many of you know, TEDx events have sprung up all over the world. Planning the bigger events takes a lot of time and effort from volunteers who are serious about “ideas worth spreading.” I’m one of those volunteers, having been on the production team for TEDx Austin since its inception. The team was very supportive of our book, Gamestorming, when it was released and we used the next group meeting as an opportunity to demonstrate the value of the visual-thinking activities within. What you see above is an artifact from a recent meeting with some of the best design, marketing and UX firms in Austin. It was a creative brainstorm designed to put the “hive mind” together to see how we can make the 2011 event better and bolder than last year’s (which was very well done, in large part to Nancy Giordano‘s solid mind and infectious enthusiasm). I’d love to be able to show the other visual artifacts from the meeting, alas, that content is intended to be a surprise for the audience.

Some tips for running the Lo Tech Social Network game (on p. 105 of the book): This game is an opener and it really contributes to warming up groups that otherwise may be slow to wake up or timid about contributing, particularly if they’re in a group of their professional peers. (Note: If the people are strangers who have never heard of each other, this game won’t work. At least 1/2 of the participants need to have some knowledge of the others.) Position your white space by a food-and-drink area so the participants can loiter and make connections while they (sometimes awkwardly) stand around before the meeting begins. You can have written instructions on a flip chart next to the space they’re playing in, but it’s also good to have a visual example already in the white space (at least two sticky notes connected by a line that says how the people are connected) and you’ll find that people deduce what to do. And of course you can have a facilitator placed near the area to give people the rules of the game and supply them with markers and sticky notes. Lo Tech Social Network gets fun fast and it alleviates the desire to run the old “My-name-is _______ and-one-thing-people-don’t-know-about-me-is _______” snoozer. This is a faster way to accomplish the same goal and to actually show how small the world can be. And if you want to make the game less formal, start off the visual example by writing a comment like, “we have the same taste in women” or “we went to the same nudist colony.” If you’ve got a tight-knit group already, let them be goofy. It makes it a funnier experience.

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Gamestormin’ for the Unions in D.C.

Sunni B. refreshed her union history during the latest Gamestorming session right down the street from the White House. Working with Union Privilege, a program of the AFL-CIO, together she used visual thinking and game techniques to devise their master plan for shifting from good to great. She invented a new game that actually isn’t in Gamestorming the book because she was inspired by Simon Sinek’s Start with Why (and because she finds it difficult to refrain from inventing new games to play.) She named the first game “The Golden Circle” based on Simon’s content, and then used a CIA technique called “The Phoenix Checklist” to get the group’s mental muscles working. She followed those activities up with S.C.A.M.P.E.R. and Empathy Mapping – one group drew a picture of the Executive Director which was hilarious – and finished early because the group worked so hard. Dare we ask if it may not really be “sundown on the unions?” This one had big plans for the future and storming the games helped them carve the path.

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Poster Session with Credit Counselors

Inspired by the use of Poster Session. I had about 90 minutes of time with a Consumer Credit Counseling Service group I am doing some long term Managerial Leadership Coaching with.

A slightly varied process was introduced combining an activity called Bright : Blurry : Blind and Poster Session provided some amazing insight and commonalities to define metrics and areas for future work.

Additionally working with this group, I knew that they were numbers people, who still cared greatly about service. Using poster session, asking them to keep it visual the people used different brain connections that they often do not associate with work. This allowed the people to feel free and able to share, because the situation was changed.

Here are some some photos from our time;

ConsumerCreditServicesBuffaloNY - Team Building & Leadership (2)

ConsumerCreditServicesBuffaloNY - Team Building & Leadership (3)

ConsumerCreditServicesBuffaloNY - Team Building & Leadership (4)ConsumerCreditServicesBuffaloNY - Team Building & Leadership (6)

 

ConsumerCreditServicesBuffaloNY - Team Building & Leadership (12)

 

Thank you GameStorming!

 

michael cardus

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Applying the Impact & Effort Matrix

Recently, my team got stuck trying to choose from four different architecture options for our website.  We need to find a balance between near-term tactical goals and long-term strategic goals. When we focused on our strategic goals, the solutions that we came up with didn’t meet our short-term requirements, and vice versa. We moved the pieces around the board for a month, and then finally we gave up and called for a Big Meeting.

In the meeting we had tech leads, solution architects and developers from my company and from our vendor. We also had other stakeholders like administrators, product owners, a couple of consultants from a design company and our UX (User Experience) guy. There were 20 of us, which made lunches expensive, but which made the situation ripe for some Gamestorming.

On the first day, we did the Impact & Effort Matrix exercise (p. 241) for our long term product strategy. We were looking to see whether there were strategic goals we could meet while developing on technology and development practices that were already in place. The result was something like this diagram:

Caption: Each point is a strategic goal. For each axis, 0-5 is low and 6-10 is high.

Caption: Each point is a strategic goal. For each axis, 0-5 is low and 6-10 is high.

This exercise put to rest our dream of being able to meet our tactical and strategic goals using the same platform. Meeting our strategic goals would require developemnt of a new platform, and the time-to-market required by a new platform could not meet our tactical market needs. We now had two projects on our hands. I considered this a success because the visualization definitely made it very clear that we couldn’t kill two birds with one stone – in this case we definitely needed two stones.

We already had a good option for the strategic platform coming from our in-house development team, so what was left was to determine how we were to meet our tactical goals. Our short-term capacity is strained by the projects already underway, so we gamed out a hybrid approach with our vendor using the SWOT Analysis exercise (p. 212).

SWOT Analysis

We had a plan, and the exercise confirmed that our plan had many strengths. This was not unexpected. But the exercise also unearthed anxiety that some team members had about the long term viability of the vendor and the partnership, which we discovered while documenting threats. I found these issues to be particularly valuable, and we can use them to shape our partnership contract with our vendor.

With the help of exercises from Gamestorming, we got our project unstuck after a month’s worth of chasing our tails, we sorted our near and long-term goals, and now we are on our way to setting up a  partnership to address our tactical goals and building a new platform for our strategic goals.

Brendan Sullivan
Product Director, Elsevier

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Lo-Tech Social_Network…Explored

Inspired by GameStorming and looking for a new content piece for a 2 day workshop I was facilitating I decided to facilitate Lo-Tech Social_Network.

And for some reason I called it Social-Network-UN_Plugged…so both are used interchangeably. Why?  Because I forgot the name when I introduced the activity.

Below is a write-up created with Lo-Teach Social_Network in mind and I am calling

Social-Network Un_Plugged 

Purpose

  • Team process of creating connections.
  • Getting to know others while finding similarities and developing common strengths.
  • Visual Representation of known and un-known connections, dependencies, and accountabilities within teams

Materials:

  • Flip Chart Paper or Large Roll of paper
  • Post-its (multi-colored preferably)
  • Markers or pens (the more colors the better!)

Group Size:

  • Can be accomplished with groups of 3 – 1000’s
  • For smaller groups use flip chart paper, for larger groups you are going to need a MUCH larger space and sufficient amounts of paper.

team building & leadership www.create-learning.com

Objective:

Social-Network-Un-Plugged is effective with groups of people who know each other well as well as those who do not know each other well.

The objective is to find connections, then to continue to explore how people in the team are connected. By graphically illustrating connections people begin to feel and understand that the similarities and accountabilities are more alike than they at first thought.

Preparation:

Prior to beginning this activity with small teams; ensure that you have at least one sheet of flip chat paper/per team of 10 or less.

For team of 10 or greater I recommend using another sheet of flip chart paper for every 10 people.

If the group is large for example 100+ there are 2 variations;

1. Break the group into teams of 10 people and each team sits with their own piece of flip chart paper. Teams can be Heterogeneous (do not know each other) or Homogenous (know each-other well) the facilitator and decision maker determines this based upon the program objectives.clip_image006

2. The team stays one large organizational group and a large roll of paper is rolled across an available wall. With this variation everyone is finding connections with everyone else.

Additionally you will need at least one Post-it per/person and each person will need a marker, or something to write with.

Instructions and Facilitator Script:

Hand out the flip chart paper and ensure that everyone has a post-it and a marker or pen.

If using the large group method have the paper secured to a wall.

Below is how I generally explain the initiative;

clip_image008“Within this room today we all share connections, connections of managerial authority, accountabilities, backgrounds, futures, trainings, families, hobbies, etc…

It is vital that these connections grow and we see that the similarities are greater than the differences. Once we explore how similar and inter-connected we all are then we can grow and develop solutions to enhance what we are doing.

Please in the top portion on your post-it write your name, below that you are going to draw a picture of your face. Below your picture write two ‘tags’ about yourself (one word skills you possess, sometime I have them write where they were born and if they work together number of years with the agency.)

clip_image010Great now place you post-its randomly on the paper. Using the markers draw lines connecting you, to other people. Label these lines what the connection is. For example one line may connect 2 people who were hired together, another may connect people who worked in the same office, and another may connect people who like to eat chocolate ice-cream. The connections do not and should not be all work related, look for hobbies, personal preferences, vacation spots, sports teams, etc…”

 

Allow 20-30 minutes depending upon how interactive the groups are being, with larger groups you will have to allow more time. Some people walk away and come back; it is alright if everyone is not into the activity. Once the action has calmed down lead the group in some processing and reflection.

Processing & Reflection:

Here are some ideas;

Active Processing;

Ask each person to find their post-it and count the amount of connections that off-shoot their name.

Once they find their post-it and count connections ask people to read the connections and reflect on how the connections were;

  • formed
  • broken
  • strengthened
  • changed

Following the personal reflection ask the people to forms groups of 2-3. Ask each person to share one connection for each of the following terms above (formed, broken, strengthened, changed) with the group.

clip_image012

Possible questions for the group;

What was your initial reaction to the challenge?

How many connections were formed?

What surprised you about the connections?

In what ways did you form connections?

Who are you connected with that you did not know you shared that connection?

What can we learn from this?

How can these ideas be brought to the office, home, community, classroom?

Reference:

Original idea from the book; GameStorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers: Lo Tech Social Network game; p. 105

And reminded of the excellence of this activity from the GameStorming Blog 

 

michael cardus is create-learning

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Graphic Jam sparks high-school imaginations

Graphic Jam!

Katie Koch of Project: Interaction is Gamestorming with high-school students. Here’s an excerpt from her blog post where she explains how she used Graphic Jam (page 96) to get students thinking visually and to get their creative juices flowing:

Looking for a fun way to brainstorm, we decided to adapt a game called Graphic Jam, from the book, Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. The game challenges participants to visualize words that often seem too abstract to imagine in a tangible way. Participants are given two minutes to sketch as many ideas as they can to represent the chosen word.

We thought this would be a great assignment for our class for a few reasons. Many of our girls keep saying to us that they’re not any good at drawing, and we are determined to break that mindset and get them comfortable with thinking visually. And, we want them to know that having lots of ideas is critical to finding the right idea. We also wanted them to know that brainstorming can be more alive than just writing words on paper.

The Graphic Jam was a huge success! Each word generated tons of tiny sketches. When time was up and the alarm rang, the girls rushed out of their seats to post their sketches to the chalkboard, with over half the group eagerly volunteer to explain their sketches in front of the class.

You can read the full post here.

Project:Interaction is a ten-week after-school program that teaches high-schoolers how they can use design to help improve their communities. They could use your help to buy materials for their classes. If you like what they’re doing please consider helping them with their Kickstarter campaign: They have five days left and need another $2,000 or so to reach their $7,500 goal. It’s a great program. Why not lend a hand?

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Lo Tech Social Network at TEDx Austin

As many of you know, TEDx events have sprung up all over the world. Planning the bigger events takes a lot of time and effort from volunteers who are serious about “ideas worth spreading.” I’m one of those volunteers, having been on the production team for TEDx Austin since its inception. The team was very supportive of our book, Gamestorming, when it was released and we used the next group meeting as an opportunity to demonstrate the value of the visual-thinking activities within. What you see above is an artifact from a recent meeting with some of the best design, marketing and UX firms in Austin. It was a creative brainstorm designed to put the “hive mind” together to see how we can make the 2011 event better and bolder than last year’s (which was very well done, in large part to Nancy Giordano‘s solid mind and infectious enthusiasm). I’d love to be able to show the other visual artifacts from the meeting, alas, that content is intended to be a surprise for the audience.

Some tips for running the Lo Tech Social Network game (on p. 105 of the book): This game is an opener and it really contributes to warming up groups that otherwise may be slow to wake up or timid about contributing, particularly if they’re in a group of their professional peers. (Note: If the people are strangers who have never heard of each other, this game won’t work. At least 1/2 of the participants need to have some knowledge of the others.) Position your white space by a food-and-drink area so the participants can loiter and make connections while they (sometimes awkwardly) stand around before the meeting begins. You can have written instructions on a flip chart next to the space they’re playing in, but it’s also good to have a visual example already in the white space (at least two sticky notes connected by a line that says how the people are connected) and you’ll find that people deduce what to do. And of course you can have a facilitator placed near the area to give people the rules of the game and supply them with markers and sticky notes. Lo Tech Social Network gets fun fast and it alleviates the desire to run the old “My-name-is _______ and-one-thing-people-don’t-know-about-me-is _______” snoozer. This is a faster way to accomplish the same goal and to actually show how small the world can be. And if you want to make the game less formal, start off the visual example by writing a comment like, “we have the same taste in women” or “we went to the same nudist colony.” If you’ve got a tight-knit group already, let them be goofy. It makes it a funnier experience.