21apps California Road-Trip
We’re back from our business trip to the USA!
Our first time in the San Francisco bay area, great place and great people! In case you hadn’t realised we’d gone (or why), we were over there (myself and Andrew) being formally trained by Luke Hohmann of The Innovation Games Company in a fantastic “serious games” technique called Innovation Games® which you can use to help your organisation:
- Engage stakeholders
- Identify and prioritise requirements
- Gain customer feedback
- Market research
- Product development
- and more..
The technique can be used face-to-face or using their on-line platform.
Luke wrote an awesome book on the technique, and we have been using the techniques listed for a while now to great effect.
The Training Course in Mountain View
The training course was a fantastic experience for both myself and Andrew, with over 20 attendees from Cisco, Thoughtworks and lots of other awesome companies and none other than SharePoint MVP Michal Pisarek.
We spent two very very intensive days in Mountain View learning about the rationale behind innovation Games®, understanding the planning process, learning in great detail about each game (through serious play of course!), understanding how to process the and action results and exploring opportunities, scenarios and ways in which these Innovation Games® can be played in real world situations. I learnt a heap more about the technique itself but also about facilitation, human behaviour, product development and lots more, really well worth the trip to the US to take the course.
Reading the book is great, actually playing the games helps you improve and develop, but spending two days really digging into the details helps you fully understand the real value in serious games.
Here’s some of the action from the 2 days of training, it was unbelievable insightful, challenging and absolutely relevant to what we at 21apps are striving for:
What did we bring back on the plane?
Hint: It wasn’t wine or beer (although we did bring back shoes, chocolate, mini-surfboards, clothes, a baseball and a Hello Kitty doll)
Yep, 21apps, have been using the techniques for a while now, but are proud to be bringing Innovation Games® from the States into the UK offically and even more excited that we are the only UK Qualified Innovation Games® Instructors!
What does Innovation Games® and 21apps actually mean to you?
We can give you advice and guidance about whether Innovation Games® is right for you.
We can deliver Training:
- Two-Day Course
- Public or private
- Run in-line with the official Innovation Games® training programme curriculum
We’ve got Luke Hohmann coming over to the UK in November running the Innovation Games® for Customer Understanding Workshop with us, register now before the places disappear!
We can do Facilitation:
- Help you utilise Innovation Games® techniques to solve your business challenges
- Review your problem scenario
- Develop a Game-Plan
- Facilitate the set-up and running of the chosen Innovation Games®
- Deliver actionable results
- Help you analyse the results and develop your action plan
If you’re still not sure, why not try playing on the on-line platform, we’ve embedded one of our favourite Instant Play Games (Speedboat) below, try it now. Better still get in touch with us and we’ll help you facilitate an on-line Innovation Game® session and answer your questions along the way!
Example Game: Speed Boat
Goal: Identify What Customers Don’t Like About Your Product or Service
Customers have complaints. And, if you simply ask them to complain, they will. This may be OK, but be careful: the seemingly harmless snowflakes of a few minor problems can quickly become an avalanche of grievances from which you can never recover. I’ve sat through a few of these “let it all hang out and complain about anything sessions,” and just about everyone leaves the room tired, and frustrated. Think ‘angry mob’ and make certain you know where the exits are located.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can ask your customers what’s bothering them if you do it in a way that lets you stay in control of how complaints are stated and discussed. In the process, you’ll find fresh new ideas for the changes you can make to address your customer’s most important concerns.
Draw a boat on a whiteboard or sheet of butcher paper. You’d like the boat to really move fast. Unfortunately, the boat has a few anchors holding it back. The boat is your system, and the features that your customers don’t like are its anchors. Customers write what they don’t like on an anchor. They can also estimate how much faster the boat would go when that anchor was cut. Estimates of speed are really estimates of pain. When customers are finished posting their anchors, review each one, carefully confirming your understanding of what they want to see changed in the system.
This metaphorical game can be altered to suit your needs. For example, Jonathan Clark’s Speed Plane uses an airplane instead of a boat and replaces anchors with luggage. When I’m doing our SPGovIA Master Class I use a SailBoat with anchors and Wind-Clouds to capture both the positives and the negatives! Customizing the game will make it more in-tune to your customer/clients business and can result in more valuable feedback.
Why It Works
While most customers have complaints, few customers are genuinely “against” you or your product. Even if they express extreme frustration, the reality is that they want to succeed in using your product. Giving them a way to express their frustration without letting a group mentality or a single person dominate the discussion is what most customers want. Speed Boat create a ‘safe’ environment where they can tell you what’s wrong.
Many people don’t feel comfortable expressing their frustrations verbally. Giving them a chance to write things down contributes to the “safer” process. It also helps give them an opportunity to reflect on what is genuinely most important. The opportunity to reflect is especially important for those customers that just seem to be somewhat unhappy people (you know, the ones who complain a lot about the little details). Asking them to verbalize their issues, especially in writing, motivates them to think about these issues. Many of them will self-identify trivial issues as just that: trivial issues, and, in the process, focus on the truly big issues. Thus, they end up getting to voice their complaints, but they’re put into perspective, and when they get used to THINKING about their complaints, especially quantifying what the impact is, they are more reasonable and contribute more to success – theirs and yours.
That said, there are products where the sheer number of seemingly trivial complaints adds up to one truly large complaint: the product or service offering is just not that good. In this case, Speed Boat works because we don’t restrict participants to the size, shape, weight, or number of anchors that they add to the boat.
Get in touch with us to find out how playing Serious Games in your organisation can deliver a huge amount of untapped value!
“The seriously fun way to do serious work”