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VizThink Dallas, in the house!

Mark Kraemer posted these slides from VizThink Dallas. For more information on the games referenced in this slide deck check out Elevator Pitch and Speed Boat in the Gamestorming Wiki.

This slide deck is a great inspiration and also gives you a good sense of what can be accomplished in a couple of hours.

Don’t miss slide 11!

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‘Wikkid Awesome’ Gamestorming Workshop & Happy Hour in Boston – March 1st and 2nd

NOTE: We had to postpone the January workshop to March. We hope you can still join!

Gamestorming co-author James Macanufo will be delivering a one-day workshop in Boston as part of the WorkBar Workshop series. It is going to be ‘wikkid awesome’ as they say here.

“Work Better” Part One: GAMESTORMING

MARCH 2, 2012 | 10AM – 4PM

Picture taken by Dave Gray

Registration details here:

In addition, there will be a happy hour the evening beforehand starting at 7pm. Sign up here: You do not need to be a registered workshop participant to attend the happy hour.

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Creating a Sharepoint vision using the Cover Story game

Sharepoint analyst and solution specialist Michal Pisarek just wrote a great case study of how he used Cover Story to get people aligned around a shared vision.

“A clear, compelling vision for SharePoint is a must if want to have the best chances of success. However simply asking a bunch of stakeholders the question “So what is the vision for SharePoint?” is probably not going to get you the results that you are hoping for. An effective way to get users to describe their vision for SharePoint is the Cover Story game.”

Read all about it here.

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How to turn work into play

Think about a game you really enjoy. Why do you play? What makes the game enjoyable? Why is it fun?

Now think about your last meeting. Who was there? What was the goal of the meeting? What was the process you used to get the people to move toward the goal?

Now think of the game again. Make a list of things that make your favorite game fun. The thing is, games and meetings have some things in common, Unfortunately, fun usually isn’t one of those things. But what they do have in common is that they involve people going through a shared process to try to achieve a goal.

See if you can find ideas from your favorite game that could make your meeting more fun and enjoyable. For example, could you design a game board that would help you track progress in the meeting? Could you pass a ball around from speaker to speaker to reduce the number of interruptions? Maybe you could write some questions on index cards and have people draw cards and answer the questions.

Studies have shown that people who are emotionally engaged learn and remember better. So if you make a meeting fun, you are also more likely to improve learning and people are more likely to remember what they learned.

Take a chance, try something new in your next meeting, and see if you can turn work into play!

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The Low Tech Social Network – an amazing experience

At the recent Design Jam Oxford I was introduced to the Gamestorming book and have been pretty much obsessed with it ever since. Given the slightest opportunity I have been putting its ideas to use and one fantastic success was at a recent event in Nottingham in the UK.

We are a group of artists called Livescribes and we have only just launched ourselves into the world of Visual Thinking, Graphic Recording and Graphic Facilitation. When you begin a new venture – I quit my regular 9-5 web job to do this – you never quite know what might happen. The first event we were due to attend as Livescribes was called ‘Show Off’ at Antenna in Nottingham.

Antenna is a studio and office space for creatives based in and around Nottingham. We decided one thing we wanted to do to show the people there we do things differently was to instigate the ‘Low Tech Social Network’ straight out of the Gamestorming playbook (page 105). We would ask people to take a Post-It, draw themselves, write two things about themselves on it and ‘upload’ themselves to our piece of paper.

The event had businesses associated with Antenna as well as visitors all with stands showing their wares in a large, and very nice, bar area which forms the main networking spot within the building (it does coffee and beer). We unfurled a giant piece of paper and masking taped it to a large wall on a slightly raised area in the bar area. And after politely negotiating with some hairdressers to move their stand so we could be seen awaited the first arrivals.

As it was the hairdressers next to us became our first additions to the social network. We even drew a cartoon of them cutting hair. They went from a bit put out at moving to our new friends. Already the power of the social network was having an effect. We got everyone we could to ‘upload’ themselves and draw connections to other people. You can have a look at the final result on our site here (I have used the cloud zoom JQUERY plugin to create that effect incase you’re interested).

We managed to collar nearly everyone who walked into the room over the course of the day. Not only is this an excellent ice breaker its a fantastic way to get talking to potential clients at an event like this. Once the penny dropped that we were not trying to get their credit card details for some ‘New Facebook’ people smiled, grabbed a sharpie and connected. And once the network had grown into a significantly large collective artwork it became one of the main draws of the event.

My favourite moment was when I accosted a thin slightly stressed individual who was inspecting the work. After giving him the spiel and placing a Post-It and pen in his hand he got to it. Although one odd thing that struck me was, as I was speaking, he looked over my shoulder and made that sort of ‘no it’s ok’ hand gesture to someone. As the gentleman uploaded I noticed he wrote ‘politician’ on his Post-It, I looked around to see a coterie of sharp suited business delegates and political types holding clip boards and a few photographers all looking at us. It turned out I had button holed the head of Nottingham City Council. When he asked me how he should cut £20m from the city budget I immediately thought of the ‘Anti Problem’ Gamestorming session and was about to suggest we figured out how to spend £20m and then not do that – but he was whisked away by his army of followers before I could get him to a flip chart.

My tips are for this are: it’s a highly effective ice breaker, a great way to get talking to people and it can run all day. Get a massive bit of paper to do it if you can, people like the tactile nature of it. And over the course of the day we only met one person who didn’t want to do it, so we drew one for him. I wonder if you can guess who…

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Show us your Gamestorming pictures and win a free iPhone app!

Graphic Gameplan image by Brynn Evans

As some of you know, we are working on a Gamestorming iPhone app, the Gamestorming card deck.

Here’s part of the description we are submitting to the App Store:

Each card describes a game that you can apply to any number of business settings, including object of play, step-by-step instructions and strategies for making it work. Create a card stack of your favorite games and use it to plan your next meeting. Then when you are in the meeting, pull up the stack on your iPhone for easy reference. Over 100 games and counting! As we add new games to the Gamestorming deck your app will be automatically updated.

The Gamestorming card deck will include all of the games from the Gamestorming wiki. But we need your help. We want each card to look beautiful, with a picture of the game being described. And to do that we need great photos like this one from Brynn Evans.

If we use your photo to illustrate a game then you will get a promo code that will let you download the app, pre-release, for free, as our way of saying thank you.

Here’s how to submit a photo:

1. Find a game on the Gamestorming wiki that doesn’t have a color photo at the top of the page. That is, a page like this one (which has no image at the top), or this one (which has only a black-and-white diagram such as those in the book). That’s because we want the cards to have beautiful color photos of the game in action, like this bodystorming photo by Christian Crumlish, not just a dry black-and-white diagram.

2. Join the Gamestorming flickr group and submit your photo to the group. Make sure you give the photo a Creative Commons, Attribution-only license. The title of the photo should match the game you are submitting it for.

3. Send us an email at gogamestorm (at) gmail (dot) com with a link to the photo.

If we choose your photo, you’ll get the app for free and also the bragging rights that your image is in the iPhone app. Whenever someone pulls up the Gamestorming app on an iPhone, you’ll be able to pull up your “game card” and say “I took that photo.”

We look forward to seeing your photos, and thanks in advance for your help!

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Gamestorming workshop in Atlanta, June 19

Dave Gray will be delivering a one-day Gamestorming workshop on Sunday June 19th in Atlanta. This is part of the pre-conference festivities for the annual CPSI (Creative Problem-Solving Institute) week-long extravaganza, which Dave will also be attending as a participant.

You do not need to attend the week-long event to go to the workshop! Full pricing information can be found here.

For those who haven’t heard of CPSI, it’s the largest and longest-running creativity and innovation “how-to” conference in the world, and this year it will be held from June 20-24 in Atlanta. Early bird registration is now available through May 15 online here.

This isn’t a listen-and-leave conference, it’s more like a college short-course where you develop real creative skills and enhanced innovation talents that you can apply right away in both your professional and personal life.

CPSI was founded more than 50 years ago by Alex Osborn, the creator of brainstorming and co-founder of worldwide adagency BBDO. This is one of the few conferences I know of that’s dedicated to developing your skills through research-based training. More than 500 people from more than 100 corporations, government groups, nonprofits and startups attend this annual event. In addition to the early registration discount offered now through May 15,

government, nonprofit, group, business, and student conference rates are available as well.

Check it out!

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Because, oddly, I had never been to London, Andy Budd of Clearleft took pity on me and invited me to host a workshop at UX London 2011. (He swears it’s due to my content but I think he thought I needed a spot of tea.) So I must applaud his prescience – the Gamestorming workshop turned out to be so popular in the pre-conference participant poll that I ended up offering two of them. The global UX community, since they’re operating in such a new, complex and often misunderstood space, has an intense interest in designing and leading effective client meetings. And as many of you know, this is the DNA of graphic facilitation and Gamestorming. So, for those of you who share that interest but missed the workshop, the slides are available in this link on Flickr and in this link on Slideshare. (FYI, I don’t love it when people view my slides on SlideShare since the handwritten fonts are converted to something dreadful. But do as you must.) And if you’re looking to attend a workshop yourself, well, you’re in luck! Dave Gray and I are hosting a public Gamestorming workshop in Silicon Valley in July of this year thanks to the incredible generosity of our host Duarte Design. So you know I have to say it: GAME ON!

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Pre-Mortem in action

Over on the inevitable blog, Cara Turner gives a great description of a Pre-Mortem exercise she conducted with an Agile development team.


Introduction to the team:

This is a slightly different retrospective activity, that looks forward not back, but as if we’re looking backward. We’re going to pretend we’ve come to the end of the next sprint, and it’s been a miserable failure – everything that could have gone wrong did.

At this point the team flinched a bit – I had to emphasise that the idea is to find out what went wrong, so not to focus on the feeling so much as the causes.


Read the post here.