Insights from PPPO Innovation Games Workshop

Posted: 06 May 2014

The recent 25 April 2014 Innovation Games workshop attracted 25 participants from  companies who are interested in adopting the use of innovation games in their product development and business growth. To encourage creativity, participants were immersed in a dining room setting instead of the usual corporate meeting room. The workshop was conducted by Agile and Innovation experts Tanguy, Cedric and Sylvain from Palo IT with the aim to bring fun into work while teams create innovative . 

Developed by Luke Hohmann, participants played a set of directed games as a means of generating feedback about a product or service. Games are alternatives to standard business meetings and require few props, such as sticky notes, poster paper, market pens, and random pictures from magazines or thought provoking objects. Game based activities are now widely used by companies and government agencies to foster innovation, improve communication and avoid common decision-making pitfalls.

Our Innovation Games were directed by Palo IT experts whose responsibilities include:

  • explaining the games to be played;
  • controlling the pace and tempo of each game;
  • monitoring participation levels; and,
  • managing time of the overall game-play event.

The several Innovation Games covered in the workshop were:

  • Start Your Day: Participants described their daily (hourly), weekly, monthly, and yearly events related to their use of a product. Descriptions were written on timelines on poster paper. Participants included events with time frames that match the product’s expected lifecycle or release cycle. One-time events (particularly horrible days where everything goes wrong) would come with description on how the product helps or hinders as the event unfolds.
  • Give Them a Hot Tub: Several potential product features appeared on a shuffled set of Post-It note, one feature per note. Some of the proposed features could be completely outrageous. Participants observe what happens when a customer uncovers one of these outrageous features.
  • Me and My Shadow: Participants (playing the role of product owner) carefully recorded another participant (playing the role of customer) using a product or service. The aim is to watch and listen to actions, expressions, comments, suggestions and ask questions such as “Why are you doing that,” or “what are you thinking at this moment”.
  • Prune the Product Tree: A very large tree (representing a system or product) is drawn. Thick limbs represent major areas of functionality within the system. The edge of the tree - its outermost branches, represents the features available in the current release of the product. Participants wrote new features on Post-It notes, and placed these notes onto the tree, revealing which branches (product features) are important to customers for future improvements.
  • Speed Boat: A drawing of a boat appears on a sheet of poster paper. Anchors “attached” to the boat prevent it from moving quickly through the water. The boat represents a product or system, and the anchors are features that the participants do not like. The lower the anchor, the more debilitating the feature.
  • Buy a Feature: Participants see a list of proposed product features and a cost (expressed as development effort or street-level pricing) associated with each. Each participant “buys” a desirable feature; participants may also pool resources to buy features too expensive to be purchased with individual funds. Features “bought” represent most desirable product features to be seriously considered for the new product.

Participants gave good feedback, indicating that they have enjoyed what they learnt and found the learning useful. 

Participants in discussion at Innovation Games Workshop

Facilitator Sylvian expounding on inputs to daily (hourly), weekly, monthly for "Start Your Day"

Facilitator & participants going through "Prune the Product Tree"

Facilitator Cedric talking about the anchors in "Speed Boat"