Can playing games really lead to innovations? Yes, with Innovation Games!
Have you ever sat in a staff "ideation" meeting where the purpose was to come up with groundbreaking, business-building, innovative ideas, and no one could come up with anything? Or if someone did throw out an idea, everyone shot it down? Pretty depressing, right? Well, what if I told you there is something that gets teams engaged, encourages them to work together, and enables them to arrive at breakthrough ideas and accomplish goals faster. All while having fun. What is this magic solution, you ask? Innovation Games.
So, what are Innovation Games?
Developed by Luke Hohmann, Innovation Games are "serious games" that engage people in a way that frees their brains from their preconceived mind-maps and old associations, allowing them to create new ideas in a playful, game-like environment.
The brain has been well-tooled to think in a particular way and these constraints can effectively be overcome with games.
The success of Innovation Games is in the way they bring about collaborative play among participants, while at the same time a set of observers capture the ideas, insights and body language — those unspoken cues that really reveal how people feel. It's all about discovery, both within the do-ers and the watchers.
Innovation: easy to say, hard to do
The word "innovation" is thrown around a lot these days, almost so often that it has lost its meaning. Every CEO wants his/her company to be the next Apple or Airbnb or Uber but they're not actually doing anything to encourage the very innovation they want to see. Is this true for you and your company?
What are you doing in your organization to encourage idea generation, convert ideas into innovations, and support an innovative culture? Do you have an idea bank? Do you hold idea jams? How about an Innovation Gym where your staff can work on an idea and build a business plan? Do you empower your teams to make decisions, or are you a hierarchical, top-down structure? Perhaps you need to play some games.
There are dozens of Innovation Games to choose from. Use one, or several, when you want to:
- Uncover unspoken, unmet consumer needs
- Find breakthrough opportunities
- Make better strategic decisions
- Identify a Blue Ocean Strategy® for growth
- Understand how your services fit your customers' needs and lifestyles (or don't)
- Deliver the right new features
- Better understand the customer’s experience
- Really listen to clients' frustrations
- Enable your team to hang out and watch customers solve problems
- Find new market space that people haven't even thought about
- Engage your customers in co-creating your products or services
- Substantially improve the way your company is doing things
- Increase efficiencies and find better ways to produce or service your products
Amazingly, games are a very important part of the creative process
Why? Games create randomness within rules. They take people into a new space. Games do have rules and boundaries, but they are beyond the realities of the moment.
For example, in a series of Igniting Change workshops I held in various parts of the country, I watched as CEOs or their management teams played Innovation Games. It was actually fun. The games proved to be an extremely valuable way for these CEOs and managers to “see, feel and think” in totally different ways about their companies, their products and services, their customers and non-customers, and in some cases, themselves.
To help them get there, we chose two of our favorite games: “Reverse Everything” and “Now, Wow, How.” These games helped their minds deconstruct their current businesses and reinvent them, all within three hours.
Games really can help you use serious play to do serious work, seriously!!
We would love to tell you more about how Innovation Games could help your company “see, feel and think” in new ways and convert those new ideas into effective, profitable innovations. Since all Innovation Games can be customized and combined in different ways, you might find it helpful to let us guide you in your decision process when you're choosing games to address your specific challenges. To learn how Innovation Games could jump-start new solutions for your company, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.
From Observation to Innovation,
Andi Simon, Ph.D.
CEO | Corporate Anthropologist | Author