Friday, June 5, 2009

Innovation Games in Action

I had the opportunity to work directly with Luke Hohmann, founder of Enthiosys and inventor of Innovation Games, helping to facilitate the sessions he was conducting. The venue was the User Conference of one of his customers, a software company from Austin. The games used were 2020-Vision, Speedboat, and Buy a Feature.

There was a lot of preparation behind the scenes prior to the event. The users were being asked to provide feedback on the future direction of the product, so time was spent putting together lists of features that could be developed along with descriptions of them, etc.

2020-Vision was used with executive-level customers to prioritize features. This is a more facilitator-focused activity, where participants compare features in pairs deciding "better One, better Two" much like your optometrist does when fitting you for new glasses.

Speedboat was used to identify things in the existing product that people wanted changed or improved. This game begins as an individual-focused activity, as each participant begins by writing down things that they personally don't like. As the game progresses and people see what other people have said more and more interaction occurs.

Buy a Feature is a completely participant-focused activity that simulates a "market" for features that "cost money". Users discuss the features and debate what is worth spending money on. This forces people to combine their money to get expensive features beyond the budget of any one person. This game is a cognitive decision-making triumph, as it leverages Wisdom of Crowds, Prediction Markets, and fun.

At the event was a journalist/observer who noted that despite the apparent chaos of the activities, it was actually quite directed and successful. My response was that Innovation Games events are forms of dynamic, non-linear stability, which is much more robust in the face of random or unexpected events. (The standard example is that of earthquake resistant buildings--fixed and rigid "stability" or designed to sway with the movement of the earth?)

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