Object of Play:
This game helps you discover what you and your colleagues like best and least about your jobs. When doing something you love, it is easy to get lost in the activity for its own sake, which stimulates creativity and commitment to the task at hand. This can be applied to your work to make it more enjoyable and productive. With Job or Joy, participants share their favorite hobbies, tedious chores, and what they like or dislike about work. This enhances your understanding of your colleagues while uncovering ways to make work more fun.
Number of Players:
5 – 8
Duration of Play:
How to Play: 1. Before your meeting, draw a graph with four quadrants. Write “not-work” on the left of the x-axis and “work” on the right. Then write “play” above the y-axis and “not-play” below it.
This gives each quadrant a specific meaning
Quadrant 1: Joy – work activities that people enjoy (ex. conferences)
Quadrant 2: Hobbies – activities outside of work that people enjoy (ex. reading, biking, cooking)
Quadrant 3: Chores – activities outside of work that people don’t enjoy (ex. cleaning)
Quadrant 4: Job – work activities that people don’t enjoy (ex. mundane office meetings)
Job and Joy (work) = external to the individual; liking of the activity depends on the situation or attributes of it
Hobbies and Chores (leisure) = internal to the individual; self-motivated activities outside of the workplace
2. Pass out sticky notes and pens to your team members. Ask them to write activities they do that apply to each of the quadrants.
3. After about 5 minutes, have your participants place their sticky notes where they feel the they belong on the chart. For instance, if someone likes cooking, they would put that in the “Hobbies” quadrant. If they don’t like cooking, they would place it in the “Chores” section. Things that people like to do at work go under “Joy” and work activities people don’t like go under “Job.”
4. Ask each person to explain the activities they wrote and why they placed it where they did. Use this discussion time to learn about each other and collaborate on how to make work more enjoyable for everyone.
The writing and discussion time should begin with activities people love to do outside of work and move to more work-oriented activities. This will help everyone think of ways to make their jobs more enjoyable while creating a fun environment.
Online Job or Joy
Start playing Job or Joy immediately online! Clicking on this image will take you to an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com, where you can invite participants to play. Here, there will be two icons:
Happy face: what you enjoy to do
Frown face: what you don’t enjoy to do
Simply drag these to the chart and collaborate about the moves in real time. When finished, your results are organized onto a spread sheet so you can get the most out of your game.
When people enjoy what they are doing and become engaged through self-motivation, they can push themselves to form innovative ideas and breakthroughs. Their participation is catalyzed by the activity they are involved in and they channel their personal commitment toward achieving the goal. Discover what your colleagues like/dislike to do in order to better understand who they are and how you can all maximize your joy — both during and outside of work.
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.
Object of Play
The first step of achieving your business goal is always the most difficult. Where do you start? Who can you talk to? Is there anybody that will support you in your risky journey? Fortunately, Deb Colden’s Circles of Influence can help you reach your action potential by identifying connections that will lead you to success. Take advantage of this game to expand your network and turn your thoughts into plans.
Number of Players
5 – 8
Duration of Play
How to Play
1. At the top of a large poster or white board, define your goal. This could be anything from finishing a task by the end of the day to increasing your sales before the end of the year. Write what you want to accomplish in one sentence to keep it concise.
2. Draw two large circles next to each other, putting a check mark in the center of the left one and a smiley face in the middle of the right one. Label the circles as followed:
Left circle: “Circle of the Task”
Right Circle: “Board of Directors”
3. Distribute pens and plenty of sticky notes to each person.
4. Focus on “Circle of the Task.” This is designated for people who could help you reach your goal or provide contacts of people in their network who could assist you. Ask participants to write names of people belonging to the category on their sticky notes and to post them on the edge of the left circle. Avoid generalizations, such as “somebody from Company X,” or “a professor.” By using specific names, you can transform vague ideas into tangible actions and identify who will help you excel toward your goal. Also, it will get you thinking about specific questions to ask them so you can get exactly what you need in an efficient manner.
5. As a team, reflect on and note how connecting with each person could be advantageous. Who benefits from the relationship? Who knows other potentially helpful people? Why is the interaction important? Focus on ways you can provide a win-win (give something, get something) experience to the people on your task circle.
6. Move on to the “Board of Directors.” This circle is for people who will help you no matter what, and who you can rely on to provide encouragement and advice. These personal acquaintances are perfect to speak with when you don’t know where to start or want to practice forming focused questions. As before, ask players to write names on their sticky notes and to post them on the edge of the circle.
7. Collaborate to uncover ways to use the support and advice of your “Board of Directors.”
8. Work together to identify who to speak with first from your “Circle of the Task.” Who is the easiest person to talk to with the best return? If going straight to your “Circle of the Task” is too intimidating, then select someone from you “Board of Directors” who can calm you down and provide advice. These people want you to succeed, and can help you identify where to start. Also, look for two-fers: people who belong to both circles. These are valuable connections, as they can assist you with the task and provide support.
9. After speaking with people on your “Circle of the Task,” make sure to ask, “Is there anyone else I should talk to?” This will encourage them to share their networks to help expand yours. When you return to the chart, attach a circle to the person’s sticky note, representing their connections. This will organize your potential contacts so you can see your expanded sphere of support.
Play Circles of Influence Online
You can instantly play Circles of Influence online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com; simply email the game link to your staff 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 two circles organize your “Circle of the Task,” and “Board of Directors.” You will see two icons in the top left corner, which represent people in your network:
Green person – in your “Circle of the Task”
Blue person – in your “Board of Directors”
Blue stars – goals
To add the icons to the game board, simply drag them to their respective sections and describe what they represent. Players online are able to decide on multiple goals, symbolized by blue stars. As facilitator, engage your participants to discover which of the goals are most important.
Everyone can edit the placement and description of each icon, which can be seen in real time. Collaborate through the chat facilitator to build from each other’s ideas. When finished, the results will be organized in a spreadsheet for you to carefully analyze in order to get the most out of the game.
Write names of people even if you do not personally know them or if you believe they will be difficult to schedule a time to talk with. Doing so will get you thinking about that person’s network, which can be just as valuable.
This game involves visual organization and extensive collaboration to identify people who will help you move toward your goal. By writing out specific names, you can turn potential connections into beneficial relationships and form a more focused approach on how to achieve your objective. Get the job done by expanding your network while utilizing the support of those who know you best.
Object of Play
Many of us are overwhelmed by our to-do lists, and work hard each day to accomplish just a few of our countless tasks. However, we tend to focus on urgent items while disregarding the importance of planning for tasks that are necessary to reach our overall goal. This negligence will lead to even more stress in the long run, as everything will eventually become urgent if not prepared for. Fortunately, Merrill Covey Matrix, based on Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill’s description in their book First Things First, allows you to evaluate the urgency and importance of your tasks. The goal of this activity is to prioritize your to-do list in order to plan ahead and work efficiently. Play Merrill Covey Matrix with your team at work, key partners, or customers to clarify the purpose and value of your tasks and to discover which items should be minimized or eliminated.
Number of Players:
5 – 8
Duration of Play
How to Play
1. Before your meeting, draw a 2×2 matrix on a large white board or poster. Label the axes as followed:
2 left cells – Urgent
2 right cells – Not urgent
2 top cells – Important
2 bottom cells– Not important
2. Distribute pens and plenty of sticky notes to your players; participants will use these to write tasks.
3. Allow 5 – 10 minutes for players to write to-do items on the post-its: one per note.
4. Have players present their tasks to the group. As a team, collaborate to identify where each to-do item should be placed on the matrix.
5. Once all of the notes are posted, rearrange the tasks in each cell in order of importance. Start thinking about how you can use the organization to make your to-do list more efficient. Keep in mind the value of each cell:
Cell 1: Urgent, important – these tasks should be at the top of your to-do list
Cell 2: Not urgent, important – these items are likely to be neglected, but are necessary for long-term success. Set aside time each week to focus on these in order to be more productive. We suggest making this cell a different color so you will remember its significance.
Cell 3: Urgent, not important – these tasks suck your time and are often the result of poor-planning. They should be minimized or eliminated.
Cell 4: Not urgent, not important – these items are trivial time-wasters that should be eliminated
6. Collaborate to clarify the value of the items and to identify which team members will be responsible for each task. Write down the new order of your to-do list, but make sure take a picture of the chart or leave it up so you can refer back to it.
Now you can play Merrill Covey Matrix instantly online! Clicking on the picture to the right will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. Here, this image will be used as the “game board.” This chart is organized the same way as the in-person version, and the second cell is highlighted yellow to remind you of its importance. However, instead of post-it notes, there will be two different icons that players can drag onto the chart and describe to represent the tasks:
Green squares – priority tasks that require attention
Red square – tasks to minimize/eliminate
All moves can be seen in real time by each participant, so everyone can edit the positions and descriptions of the icons. Also, the integrated chat facility allows you and your players to collaborate to form the most efficient to-do list.
Delegation is an integral part of time management. Rather than assuming everyone will work together on each item, you must assign tasks in order to prevent social loafing. This way, people will feel more responsible for certain items and will accomplish them more efficiently.
Considering how easy it is to neglect the items in the second cell, it is advised to highlight or surround the region with a different color to portray its significance, as seen in the images above. At the beginning of each week, set aside time to work on these necessary tasks.
Avoid creating a long, intimidating to-do lists by breaking it down into smaller lists. For example, consider creating a task sheet for each person or a group list for each day or week.
While we are all busy working through our to-do lists, we may not be doing so as efficiently as we think. Play Merrill Covey Matrix to identify the purpose and value of your tasks and to minimize or eliminate time-wasters. Plan ahead to avoid unproductive busy work and to accomplish your goal in a productive manner.
Object of Play
Sitting through status meetings is boring, right? Well, then why do many of us go home and watch status reports for an hour or more every night?We watch news shows, ‘fake’ news shows, Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, ESPN’s SportsCenter, and many more. Something about those status reports must be working better than the ones we sleep through at work.StatusCenter is a ‘macro’ game structure that aims to apply the ‘rules’ of the TV status report game to the business status report game. The StatusCenter macro-game is populated with stand-alone games that can be linked throughout the meeting, following Gamestorming’s ‘opening, exploring, closing’ model.
Number of Players
4 to 40
Duration of Play
30 to 60 minutes for a weekly meeting; up to 4 hours for a quarterly or annual review
How to Play
Like TV, StatusCenter will link short game segments, in a manner that is interesting and time-efficient. While the segments are modeled after sports, news, or other television formats, they are equally effective for people who aren’t familiar with those metaphors.
Question Balloons: Simulating the controlled question-asking mechanisms of status shows like Larry King’s ‘email questions’, this game lets attendees literally float a question. As questions are answered, balloons are popped, and any questions still remaining at the end of the meeting are visible at a glance.
Top Scores: Simulating the ‘Headlines’ or ‘Scoreboard’, this game delivers business metrics quickly and succinctly, acting as a teaser for the rest of the meeting.
60-Second Update: Mimicking a ‘Highlights’ segment, this game delivers short updates by each member, aligning everyone. More questions can be ‘floated’ here.
Project Jeopardy: Allows one or two in-depth updates on key subjects, while creating audience involvement for those who may already know the answers. Rotating the ‘host’ from meeting to meeting gives everyone a chance to say a little more about their own projects or progress.
Crossfire: This segment provides drama, while giving a ‘safe’ environment for those that like to argue. Meeting attendees select a topic of interest during the previous week, and two people prepare to discuss it from two different viewpoints. This segment is a great way to explore potentially controversial ideas, learn about new products or technologies, or assess the competition’s latest move.
In-depth Analysis <link here>: This longer segment provides space for an investigative report, formal presentation, or guest commentary. Consider inviting speakers who are of interest to the group but don’t typically come to the meetings.
Trade Rumors: What are the hot rumors? Clearly delineated from the facts that are delivered in the status updates, these rumors generate interest and energy. Again, keep it short – 15 seconds each. Remember that a juicy rumor could become next weeks’ Crossfire or In-depth Analysis topic.
Coming Attractions: What hot projects or decisions are coming up in the next week? What meetings should I attend? Give each participant 15 – 30 seconds to provide these ‘teasers’ that are quick and to the point.
Question Balloons <link here>: Close out any questions that have not been addressed during the meeting.
Cliffhanger: Use a suggestion box to choose the Crossfire and In-depth Analysis topics and participants for the next (or future) meeting. This builds drama and anticipation for the next meeting.
We cannot recommend strongly enough that most status information should be pushed outside of the StatusCenter game. Dashboards, email updates, and the like should be used to distribute information that does not need to be reiterated with a captive audience.
Alternate short ‘highlight’ games with longer ‘analysis’ games to satisfy audience members who want depth, while keeping the pace engaging.
Stick to status subjects. Decisions, brainstorming, and other topics – no matter how legitimate – should taken off-line. Even Crossfire, which can be used to present two different opinions, should be seen as a way of exploring ideas, not as a way to come to a decision.
Add, delete, or replace these games based on time and need.
There are many proponents of standing status meetings (often called ‘huddles’). Try this method.
Try ‘co-hosts,’ like many news shows.
StatusCenter will be most successful if roles are clear and attendees have prepared in advance. Consider creating a template for 60-Second Update and Project Jeopardy to help attendees understand what kind of information to include. By moving basic status information to pre-meeting communications and then breaking the meeting itself into fast-paced chunks, you can transform a meeting that people tend to tune out of into one they will definitely want to watch.
Object of Play
Iteration retrospective activities are tricky; it is often difficult to think of practical improvements, and reflecting on negative aspects of the project can leave your team feeling upset and unmotivated. A great way to prevent these from occurring is to play a game that focuses on the positives while also pointing out aspects that need to be changed. As described in Diana Larsen and Esther Derby’s Agile Retrospectives, Learning Matrix does just this. In this game, teams collaborate to identify what they liked and disliked about a past project, as well as point out whom they appreciated and what they believe should be altered for the future. Whether analyzing the results of a conference, product, or meeting, Learning Matrix can help you uncover your top-priority items to enhance your iteration.
Number of Players
5 – 8
Duration of Play
How to Play 1. Before your meeting, create a 2×2 matrix. Draw a picture in each quadrant to represent a different aspect involved in your retrospective analysis:
Quadrant 1: Frown face for aspects you disliked, should be changed
Quadrant 2: Smiley face for aspects you liked, should be repeated
Quadrant 3: Light bulb for new ideas to try
Quadrant 4: Bouquet: people you appreciated
2. Provide players with plenty of sticky notes and markers. Allow 5-10 minutes for participants to individually write down their ideas for the four topics on separate notes.
3. After all players are done writing their ideas, ask them to present their sticky notes to the group and post them on the designated sections of the chart.
4. Narrow down the notes to a few requiring immediate attention. Give each player 6 – 10 dot stickers, which they will use to dot vote for the ideas they believe are top-priority. Resolve ties by discussing which note is more pressing or having another dot vote. Count all the votes to determine which ideas should be focused on. Narrowing ideas down is important, as it allows the team to concentrate on priorities and increases the chance of effective improvements being made.
5. Move the notes around to reflect the order of priority. Collaborate to evaluate how these ideas can be used to enhance your next iteration and discuss where you can begin making improvements.
Online Learning Matrix
Clicking on the image to the right will take you to an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. Here, the picture will be used as the “game board” and you will find four icons in the top left corner. As with the in-person game, the each icon represents a different topic:
Frown face – aspects you didn’t like
Happy face – aspects you liked
Light bulb – new ideas
Bouquet – people you appreciated
To add the icons, simply drag them to the board and describe what they represent. Everyone can edit the placement and description of each icon, which can be seen in real time. Collaborate through the chat facilitator to build from each other’s ideas and improve your past project.
Encourage players to continue thinking of ideas for each quadrant, even after all the sticky notes have been posted or the quadrants have filled up. Write the additional comments around the topic images to maintain the positioning of the original notes.
A good facilitator is necessary for this game in order to keep everyone focused. If the project team leader does not feel comfortable in this position, it is best to hire a neutral facilitator. This must be someone who can gain the team’s trust and create an environment in which participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
This exercise allows you to perform iteration retrospective analysis while maintaining a positive environment. By organizing your thoughts, you can lay out your plan for improvement and discover how to enhance your project for the future. Collaborate to identify what should be repeated, changed, or tried, and to congratulate team members for a job well-done.
Crossfire injects a little drama into a meeting while establishing a safe environment for those that like to argue. Meeting attendees select a topic of interest prior to the meeting, and two people prepare to discuss it from two different viewpoints. This game is a great way to explore potentially controversial ideas, learn about new products or technologies, or assess the competition’s latest move.
Object of Play
The object of Crossfire is simply to provide two different points of view as animatedly as possible. Players benefit from the research they do to prepare, and spectators benefit from hearing different sides of an issue. If desired, spectators can vote on which player is more persuasive, but this is optional.
Number of Players
1 moderator (optional), 2 players and up to 40 spectators
Duration of Play
2 to 3 minutes, plus prep time
How to Play
Prior to the meeting, the topic or issue and two players are selected. Each player represents one side of the issue, either by volunteering or by being nominated to take a given position. Sample topics might include:
We should/should not develop a certain new product;
Our competitor’s newest offering poses/does not pose a serious threat to us;
We should/should not hire a new marketing manager; and so on.
Each player prepares a 30-second or 1-minute position statement in advance. (30 seconds for a 2-minute game; 1 minute for a 3-minute game.) Each player should also prepare rebuttals to arguments they expect their opponent to raise.
To begin, flip a coin to see which player goes first. The moderator, if there is one, is responsible for keeping time. If there is no moderator, appoint one of the spectators to keep time.
Establish a physical space for the players, like a circle of chairs. Players should stand inside the space, and spectators should stand all around the players in a crowd or ring.
The first player gives his or her opening statement (either 30 seconds or 1 minute) to the spectators. When s/he is finished, the other player gives his or her opening statement (same length of time).
For the remaining minute, the players face each other and argue for their own position and/or against their opponent’s. During this time, players should attempt to rebut statements made by the opponent, or strengthen arguments they themselves have made. This is not a polite debate, but a heated argument. Players should act out and have fun!
C. Concluding the Game
When the minute is up, spectators can be asked to vote by applause or by moving to stand next to the player they agree with (optional).
The game may be opened up for questions at this point, so that spectators can ask for clarification from either or both players.
Players should keep in mind that their goal is to convey information and persuade others of their point of view, even if they personally do not hold that view. Their remarks should be focused on the information they are conveying, rather than on their opponent personally.
The moderator should create a safe space for Crossfire to take place. Players may act very excited, yell, gesticulate, and so on, but they should refrain from personal attacks, inappropriate language, or unprofessional actions. It should be clear that Crossfire is a game, and that one of the primary goals is to convey information to the spectators.
Players need not represent a viewpoint they actually hold. In fact, it can be very enlightening and entertaining to argue passionately from the side of the issue that one would not normally take.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Complex simulation illustrating communication by people listening and sharing information in a manner that other people can understand the message being received as well as sent.
Creates environment to transfer, strengthen and re-work systems of communication with intra as well as inter departmental systems.
Can also be used to highlight different idioms and references that are used internally, this can be confusing to other departments and cultures (for global organizations and teams).
Laminated Puzzle (supplied below)
Blank Puzzle Board (supplied below)
18 envelopes – 1 for each puzzle piece
For this variation 18 people is ideal
For smaller groups you can supply people with more than one puzzle piece or create a puzzle and puzzle grid with less pieces
For larger groups you can ask people to break into 18 teams i.e. partner, triad. Or create a puzzle and puzzle grid with more pieces
The objective is for the group to assemble themselves according to the directives and place the Communicate This puzzle pieces into their proper order.
Secondary objective is for the group to explore a complex process that requires mapping, planning, strategy, and situational leadership of each team member.
Concluding in the group exploring and developing improved use of communication systems, process mapping and listening plus speaking for understanding.
Prior to beginning this activity with 18 people (see group size above for different group sizes) laminate and cut out each of the square Communicate This puzzle pieces. Place each piece into its own separate envelope, you will need and use 18 envelopes.
The Communicate This grid should be on a table somewhere on the opposite side of the room of where you will have the group gather.
Split about ¼ of the room and place on a table the Communicate This blank grid. In the other ¾ of the room will be the working area for the team. It helps to lay a rope or use masking tape to mark the “Grid Area” and “Planning Area”
Have the guidelines written on flip chart paper
Instructions and Facilitator Script:
Hand out the puzzle pieces in a random order to the people; ask them NOT to open the envelopes until the activity begins.
Below is how I generally explain the initiative
“Each of you contain within your envelope specific pieces of information that is needed for your personal advancement and the teams overall success. Please keep the envelopes sealed until the countdown timer begins.
The objective of this simulation is to place each of the puzzle pieces in the correct order in less than 60 minutes, and then place the puzzle pieces into the Communicate This grid in under 30 seconds. Here are the guidelines;
One person per puzzle piece.
Only you can see, touch, and move your puzzle piece once the envelope in opened.
NO ONE besides the person assigned the puzzle piece can see, touch and move that puzzle piece at any time in the “Planning Area” and the “Grid Area”.
Pieces may NOT be exchanged –You must keep your piece at all times.
Pieces will be assembled properly (letters, symbols, numbers are the right way up)
Symbols match so that any two adjacent piece edges match the same symbol
The color symbols mark the edges of the puzzle (sometimes I leave this guideline out)
All planning and systemizing will be completed in the Planning Area
The group will have 60 minutes to plan, prepare, and develop a process for placing the Communicate This puzzle into the grid
Once 1 person steps into the “Grid Area” the 30 seconds for placing all the pieces properly in the grid starts.
For any violation of the guidelines the ethics board requires a penalty of 2 minutes removed from the planning time. You can choose to be a strict or forgiving of the rules as you choose. Observe how the teams and people choose to interpret the rules and use these observations for the processing and reflection.
Any questions? Your time starts NOW.”
Connections and Concepts:
Communicate this is a challenging activity. Expect yelling, confusion, and some chaos in the beginning.
For the team to complete the task a shared use of language for the symbols will be either formally or informally created. Some of the names of the symbols are not commonly known, for example ampersand. Additionally global team members may not know and have the same symbol and description; this creates a great discussion for the processing. This may / will create confusion and frustration for people who are working to solve the puzzle.
Pay attention to the group dynamics; are they all working together? Are they splitting into smaller teams? Are the smaller teams sharing information with the larger group? Who is keeping track of the time?
Once the team is all in place and they are ready to transfer the pieces to the grid, did they remember that once the 1st person crosses the line the 30 seconds for completion starts. Teams need to also plan for how they are going to move everybody in a sequence from the Planning Zone to the Grid Zone and place each piece correctly in the Puzzle Grid.
As you can see this is a multi process, situational leadership simulation.
Maladaptive behaviors are properly dealt with immediately and have consequences
Ability to get started on task/project quickly
Ask the people to break into groups of 4 to discuss and find areas in the initiative that match the Great Team Dynamics.
Following about 10-15 minutes of small group discussion ask the groups to share what they discussed.
Ask the group to split into 2 groups of 6 and to come up with an example from their work lives that is similar to Communicate This.
Allow each group to share the example, and then ask each group to create a solution based idea that can change and improve the example either team explained.
Possible questions for the group;
What was your initial reaction to the challenge?
On a scale of 0-5 0 being horrible and 5 being excellent where would you place the teams planning?
For the planning to be 1 to 2 numbers higher what would be different? How would you know? What would you notice in other people? What would they notice in you?
Did any leaders emerge?
How where disagreement dealt with?
In what ways is this like work, home, community, etc..?
What can we learn from this?
How can these ideas be brought to the office, home, community, classroom?
First saw a version when working at a Corporate Conference Center in Buffalo, NY. While co-facilitating a Global Corporate Team with Dave Davenport of DxM
Communicate This Puzzle;
Communicate This Puzzle Grid;
Michael Cardus is the founder of Create-Learning an experiential based consulting, facilitation, training and coaching organization. Leading to successful results in retention of staff talent, increased satisfaction with work, increased collaboration and information sharing within and between departments, increased accountability of success and failures, increased knowledge transfer, increased trust as well as speed of project completion and decision making of Leaders, Teams and Organizations.
Globalization and the emergence of digital business have changed the playing field for everyone. New business models can now rapidly disrupt an entire industry by changing the way value is delivered to customers (Look how Apple’s iTunes strategy disrupted the music industry, for example). The Business Model Canvas, developed by Alex Osterwalder, is a tool that you can use to examine and rethink your company’s business model. We are very pleased to announce a knowledge game for examining your business model and exploring alternatives, developed by Alex himself, and shared here for the first time. Thanks Alex!
Objective of Play: Visualize a business model idea or an organization’s current and/or future business model in order to create a shared understanding and highlight key drivers.
Number of Players: 1-6 (depending on the objective). Works well individually to quickly sketch out and think through a business model idea or an interesting business portrayed in the press. To map an organization’s existing and/or future business model you should work in groups. The more diverse the group of players (marketing, operations, finance, IT, etc.), the more accurate the picture of the business model will be.
Duration of Play: Anywhere between 15 minutes for individual play (napkin sketch of a business model idea), half a day (to map an organization’s existing business model), and two days (to develop a future business model or start-up business model, including business case).
Material required: Mapping business models works best when players work on a poster on the wall. To run a good session you will need:
A very large print of a Business Canvas Poster. Ideally B0 format (1000mm × 1414mm or 39.4in × 55.7in)
Tons of sticky notes (i.e. post-it® notes) of different colors
How to Play: There are several games and variations you can play with the Business Model Canvas Poster. Here we describe the most basic game, which is the mapping of an organization’s existing business model (steps 1-3), it’s assessment (step 4), and the formulation of improved or potential new business models (step 5). The game can easily be adapted to the objectives of the players.
A good way to start mapping your business model is by letting players begin to describe the different customer segments your organization serves. Players should put up different color sticky notes on the Canvas Poster for each type of segment. A group of customers represents a distinct segment if they have distinct needs and you offer them distinct value propositions (e.g. a newspapers serves readers and advertisers), or if they require different channels, customer relationships, or revenue streams.
Subsequently, players should map out the value propositions your organization offers each customer segment. Players should use same color sticky notes for value propositions and customer segments that go together. If a value proposition targets two very different customer segments, the sticky note colors of both segments should be used.
Then players should map out all the remaining building blocks of your organization’s business model with sticky notes. They should always try to use the colors of the related customer segment.
When the players mapped out the whole business model they can start assessing its strength and weaknesses by putting up green (strength) and red (weakness) sticky notes alongside the strong and weak elements of the mapped business model. Alternatively, sticky notes marked with a “+” and “-” can be used rather than colors.
Based on the visualization of your organization’s business model, which players mapped out in steps 1-4, they can now either try to improve the existing business model or generate totally new alternative business models. Ideally players use one or several additional Business Model Canvas Posters to map out improved business models or new alternatives.
Strategy: This is a very powerful game to start discussing an organization’s or a department’s business model. Because the players visualize the business model together they develop a very strong shared understanding of what their business model really is about. One would think the business model is clear to most people in an organization. Yet, it is not uncommon that mapping out an organization’s business model leads to very intense and deep discussions among the players to arrive at a consensus on what an organization’s business model really is.
The mapping of an organization’s existing business model, including its strengths and weaknesses, is an essential starting point to improve the current business model and/or develop new future business models. At the very least the game leads to a refined and shared understanding of an organization’s business model. At its best it helps players develop strategic directions for the future by outlining new and/or improved business models for the organization.
Variations: The Business Model Canvas Tool can be the basis of several other games, such as games to:
generate a business model for a start-up organization
develop a business model for a new product and/or service
map out the business models of competitors, particularly insurgents with new business models
map out and understand innovative business models in other industries as a source of inspiration
communicate business models across an organization or to investors (e.g. for start-ups)