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

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

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

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

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

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

Play Customer-Centric Online

You can instantly play Customer-Centric online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on the image above will start an “instant play” game at; simply email the game link to your team to invite them to play. In the game, the image to the right will be used as the “game board.” As with the in-person version, the chart organizes the various people who are impacted by your product. In the upper left corner, you will see a note card icon and people icons. Begin by dragging the notecard to the center of the chart and indicating the product you are focusing on. Then, work as a team to drag the people icons to the circles and describe who they represent.

Players can edit the placement and description of each icon, which everyone can view in real time. Use the integrated chat facility and communicate with your players throughout the game to get a better understanding of each move. After the game, the results will be organized in a spread sheet to maximize the benefits of the game.

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

2 thoughts on “Customer-Centric

  1. I find the book very interesting. The Intro chapters are excellent, a “must read”. Where I have a problem is with the games themselves. Because I am a novice, it is hard to know which games to start with. I just finishing the Business Model Generation before the 2 day workshop this coming week. I use this to prove the point. In Gamestorming, it is a 2 pager. Some of the other games seem just as daunting… If there was a way to guide the reader on ease of application and level of expertise – that would be great! Also, on those that require more knowledge and expertise, resource recommendations would be handy. Best Regards, Paul

  2. Paul –
    My recommendation is that instead of focusing on the game, focus on the kinds of outcomes you want to achieve through game play. If the outcomes you’re focusing on are big or complex, then you’re going to find yourself playing a big or complex game.

    However, if you start with more modest goals, you’ll find that you can choose simpler games or simpler applications of the games. This allows you to gain skill in a more natural manner.

    Here are four games that I recommend in every class as great games to get you started.

    Speed Boat
    Even the most satisfied customers have ideas on how you can improve your products and services. Speed Boat gives your customers an opportunity to share these ideas with you.

    Buy A Feature
    Product development is a constant art of managing to deliver the most important features within limited resources. To make this even more challenging, most products teams have more ideas on what features they should add to their products than the resources needed to add them. Buy a Feature helps you make tough prioritization decisions by giving your customers a voice in the prioritization process.

    Product Box / Design the Box
    Good product managers have a strong point of view of what their market needs. Great product managers take the time to explore “What they don’t know they don’t know” through open-ended, qualitative market research. Product Box provides you with new possibilities through open-ended exploration.

    Spider Web
    You need to understand how your product fits into your customers’ world so that you can make effective choices about what does and does not go into your product. By asking your customers to explain their view of how your product fits into their world, Spider Web can help you do this.

    These four games produce great results and are very easy to play. Use these to get started!

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