Cost Benefit

Posted: December 5th, 2013 | Added by: | Filed under: Core Games, Games for decision-making, Games for planning, Games for vision and strategy meetings | Tags: , , | No comments »

This game is most probably the most simple collaborative cost benefit analysis ever.
It is applicable onto subjects where a group has expert knowledge about costs and/or benefits.

A group of developers is such an example.
Especially a customer or customer proxy will have interest when it comes to prioritizing work items.

Generation ideas

If the list of work items is not existent you can start this exercise by a silent post-up.
All individuals in the group start scribbling down about the work to be done. (one thing/sticky)
After 10 min or so ask the group to hang them on the wall.

Clustering
Ask the team to group items together by subject in silence. Items causing discussion you ask to park aside.
Explain that the only purpose is having a priority. So under what cluster it’s been put isn’t that important. What is important however, is all know where it’s under.
So on the exact scope (what-fits-best-where) there is no explicit consensus needed. A majority is fine.

In short:
* does everybody know the scope of the clusters?
* can the team proportionally estimate the size of the scope? (what is bigger/smaller then what)

Priories on cost

SortingCostBenefit-Sorting-Scaling
Next, ask the team to sort them top to bottom on cost. (5 minutes of work)
Park the items under discussion aside after all the others are done.
Discussion can only happen when the clustering did not clear things up or caused friction. This could indicate the team isn’t aware of the goal: putting priority.

Scaling
Next hang the lowest sticky way lower and the highest way higher then the rest of the sorted list.
Like that you’ll have room to position the stickies on a scale.CostBenefit-Y-axis
Write down on the board some marks of the scale.  E.g. (see image): 1, 5, 10, 15, 20.
Ask the team to position the other items on the correct place on the scale.
The sorted order must will stay ofcourse, a relative cost will emerge from the scale as they are positionned.

This all takes about 10 min: Sorting 5, scaling 5.
Depending on the position on the scale, write the relative number bottom left on the stickies.
E.g. stickies in the middle: 50%, top 0%, bottom 100%.
This will be your Y-axis coordinate to put your sticky on a 2D cost -benefit graph.

Priories on benefit

Do the same for the benefits with a product owner, customer if preferred.
Sort, relatively scale them, and write the number bottom right.

 

Cost Benefit Result

Putting it all together

Draw the X and Y axis with the top and bottom values from the exercise above:  the costs & benefits.
Hang the stickies according to the cost/benefit coordinates noted on them.

The low hanging-fruit and infeasible-expensive items are clearly found now.

 

Conclusion

Note that the same approach can be done with a Kano diagram or any other kind of 2D graph.
It’s a fun way of clearing things out and prioritizing is done through collaborative support.
Special attention on discussion starters is recommended. They are the time consumers, and can be stopped by guarding and communicating your goal: prioritizing.

Enjoy this game, feedback is mostly appreciated!

 

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Rating: 7.3/10 (7 votes cast)

35

Posted: February 26th, 2013 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for closing, Games for decision-making, Games for planning, Gamestorming wiki | No comments »

Object of Play

This game has been designed to help prioritize different ideas or items in a quick and energetic way without getting stuck in endless discussions and avoiding any kind of influencing. It is similar to 20-20 game as it will compare items in pairs.

Number of players: 4 – 50

Duration: 15-45 minutes depending on the group size and items at hand.

How to play

  1. Organize or facilitate another game to generate items that require prioritization.
  2. Ask all attendees to put the items at hand in the middle of the group of people, one by one and shortly explaining the item at hand.
  3. When all items are in the middle of the group let each one of the attendees select their “Top”, “Most Important” item out of the pile and do this one person at the time. If their top item is gone then they could take their second, third… option out of the list, purpose it that everybody has 1 card at hand. (With a small group let them take 2).
  4. Now instruct the people to mingle amongst each other and find a partner in order to form pairs. Shortly discuss how to spread 7 points amongst the 2 items at hand with the 2 of them and add those points on the back of the card.
  5. Let the people take each others card and find another partner for a second round of weighting cards with each other.
  6. Do this 5 times (5 times 7 = 35)!
  7. Summarize all different weights to a single figure and sort highest number on top and so on…

Note: Even when the group does this a second time with the same items and interest at hand the sorting will be the same but figures might differ a bit.

Strategy

Getting a group consensus about priorities between different related items is not easy and 35 will give them an easy way to effectively and repeatedly prioritize items according the groups consensus. The technique is build in such a way that people can not cheat the system and influence the outcomes as you compare, weight items related to each other. By constantly changing cards from hands and switching from partners one is can never influence the outcome. A great way to achieve a fast consensus about the priority of the items at hand.

 

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Rating: 6.5/10 (20 votes cast)

Wellbeing North Star

Posted: August 16th, 2012 | Added by: | Filed under: Core Games, Games for any meeting, Games for decision-making, Games for design, Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for opening, Games for planning, Games for problem-solving, Games for team-building and alignment, Games for update or review meetings, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No comments »

Object of Play
When things do not go according to plan, there are two ways we can change our outlook. One is to ignore what is wrong and solely focus on the positives. Although possibly leading to a better attitude when the circumstance surpasses your low expectations, this technique still leaves you with the negative aspects that are causing your cognitive dissonance. Changing your frame of mind is only helpful if the circumstance is impossible to improve, which is not usually the case. That being said, the most beneficial way to truly change the course of our lives is to alter the situation. Wellbeing North Star, created by Kimberly Wiefling, allows you to analyze all angles of your situation in order to reach your desired end state. By comparing what you like and dislike about different aspects of your product, meeting, work day, etc., you can identify where your efforts are needed most to ensure that you achieve your goal.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play
1. Before your meeting, draw a star in the middle of a large poster or whiteboard. In the center of the star, write the topic you are going to focus on (ex. Project X, Conference, Daily schedule). Around the star, write different aspects of the topic you want to discuss with your team (ex. advertisements, graphics, communication, functions).

2. At the beginning of the meeting, distribute plenty of pens and sticky notes (2 different colors) to your participants.

3. For 5 – 10 minutes, have your players to write what they like about the aspects you wrote around the star. Tell them only to write their ideas on one color of sticky note.

4. Ask players to jot down what they dislike about each aspect for the next 5 – 10 minutes, only writing on the other color of sticky note.

5. When everyone is done writing their ideas, have each participant present their notes and post them under the respective aspects on the chart. Cluster all of the “likes” and “dislikes” together to make the results easier to understand.

6. When all of the notes have been posted, collaborate to identify how the ideas can enhance your project. What can be changed? Could you improve your project by simply eliminating any of the “dislikes”? Encourage participants to come up with solutions for the problems they presented.

Strategy
This game can result in major changes, so make sure that everyone is clear on what alterations are going to be made to eliminate any “dislikes.” Consider assigning specific tasks to people to prevent social loafing and to ensure that the changes will indeed be made.

You can play this game with anybody related to your project. Ask customers what they like/dislike about different aspects of your product or service. Or, collaborate with your key partners to determine if your relationship is going according to plan. This activity is adaptable to your needs and can be customized for any audience.

Wellbeing North Star can also be used as a retrospective analysis activity. Rather taking time to correct inferior aspects of your topic before you reach your desired end state, play this exercise after you have finished your project to identify how it can be improved for your iteration.

Play Wellbeing North Star Online

You can instantly play Wellbeing North Star online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on the image above will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com; 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.” You will see three types of icons in the upper left corner.

  • Note cards: area of concern
  • Happy face: what is working
  • Frown face: what is not working

Simply drag the note card icons to the squares and describe the concerns they represent. Then, players can drag the faces to the chart to organize the positive and negative aspects of the concerns.

Players can edit the placement and description of each light bulb, 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
Opinions are valuable when it comes to determining what is and isn’t working. Rather than lowering your expectations and allowing for mediocre results, put in the energy now to enhance your present state. Play Wellbeing North Star to get back on the track that everyone agrees will lead to your goal.

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Rating: 5.9/10 (21 votes cast)

What could go wrong?

Posted: March 26th, 2012 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for decision-making | No comments »

A while back I was working with a friend’s startup, building a web app that helps small businesses connect with their customers without having to pay for dedicated customer service teams. Still in the proof-of-concept stage, the developers had been wondering whether to introduce a handful of premium services to their product for a some time, but didn’t know how they should decide whether or not to take that leap.

(Because this startup is still a little stealth, I’m not allowed to say who it is, or much more than the description above. But that should be enough for this article.)

I tackled this problem by combining two activities I’d recently learned about, one from Gamestorming, which had just left the presses, and one my friends Barbara Holmes and Jeanne Turner at ISITE Design had been polishing and presenting at various meetings and IxDA events: user journeys.

Walking EVERY mile  in your user’s shoes

Considering each step your users will take toward a desired outcome—from awareness of the product or service to becoming a loyal customer—is instrumental in design a pleasant experience, as Barb points out in her article, Mapping the Customer Journey. The customer (or user) journey is a great way to visualize real-life scenarios that could potentially stand in the way between winning and losing a potential user.

But this wasn’t just about designing a great experience. It was about determining whether we should even start building a premium tier to validate a paid service. So I turned to Gamestorming, and found the Pre-Mortem game, a clever twist on the post-mortem summaries we’re all used to seeing at the end of a project.

Pre-Mortem is a simple, straightforward activity meant to identify potential problems before they happen, and start thinking about how they can be avoided. I decide to combine the concept with the user journey, and came up with something I’m actually pretty proud of.

The cyclical user journey

We decided to walk through the four phases of the user journey we’d identified, Awareness, Consideration, Purchase and Renewal, and came up with reasons throughout our personas’ journeys that might prevent them from becoming happy, loyal customers. We wrote short user stories to illustrate our customers’ desires and concerns along the way.

Cyclical User Journey

Why cyclical? Since this would be a recurring cost to our customer, we would need to make sure we’re addressing her needs even after she decides to start paying for the service. So after the Renewal phase, we revisit Awareness, considering not only new features we’d be implementing, but a shifting roster of competitors as well. You’re never finished selling to your users, even after they’ve paid.

Paving the way to engagement

After laying out the phases of the journey, we came up with reasons why the user would abandon the product at any time. Each cause for lost customers was countered with possible actions we could take to keep them around. While the cyclical journey implies all four phases cycle endlessly, with this diagram we treated the Renewal phase as the point where recurring payments come in, abandoning the cyclical approach for a step-by-step analysis of each phase.

Projected User journey

A quick illustration at each phase shows the path of a happy customer, who decides to stick with the product, and that of a customer who decides to leave before the next phase starts. Every destination has its story, and pinning down the stories that lead to abandonment is the first step in discussing how to better serve your users.

Sticking a fork in it

After determining how much work it would take to keep customers around, the team decided not to go through with this feature set, at least not for now. The service is still young, and while it seemed like an attractive option to have a premium tier with lots of extra features, this exercise convinced us that it wouldn’t be worth the initial investment.

While there’s a chance we could have been the next big thing with this premium tier, I like to think I saved the company a lot of time and money which might have other wise been wasted on this effort. We’re still on the lookout for a feature set that will be worth the effort and might pay off in the long run, but it’s good to know that we haven’t sunk a bunch of time and money into one with such a low chance of success.

Now that I’m running my own startup, Revisu, it’s important to me and my co-founder that we see as far as we can down the journey our users will take in becoming loyal customers, identify potential roadblocks, and deal with them before anyone actually reaches them. Hopefully, if we smooth that road out ahead of time, we’ll have much happier customers in the long run.

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Facilitating with Constraints

Posted: December 13th, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for decision-making, Games for design, Games for problem-solving | Tags: , , , , | No comments »

Many fields have long embraced constraints as necessary for creativity. Without bounding the problem you’re trying to solve, it’s difficult to see the big picture, to know where to start, or how to focus your attention – much like trying to write a paper without a thesis. Lately, there is increasing acknowledgement of the importance of constraints such as Jonah Lehrer’s Wired post highlighting the research of Janina Marguc at the University of Amsterdam.

It turns out that constraints are also an engaging and effective way to facilitate a conversation, something I’ve learned working with designer Scott Francisco.* Whether you’re trying to balance a budget, plan a meeting, or design a building, workshop activities that make the constraints visible enable better conversations and decision-making.

Here’s how it works:

1. BOUNDARY: Identify the key constraint that defines the problem you’re trying to solve. For instance, the budget (money), the duration of the meeting (time), the size of the building (area). Then create a boundary like a simple square on a large sheet of paper that represents this constraint at some scale (e.g.: a 1” square = $1000, 10mins, 100 square feet, etc)

2. GAME PIECES: Create “game pieces” that represent the different pieces your trying to decide on: different programs within the budget, different possible activities within the meeting, different spaces within the building. These can be color-coded slips of paper / cardstock / post-its. They must be at the same “scale” as the boundary so you can see the relative size of each idea or component. (This may help you realize that one proposed program would take up most of your budget, for instance.)

3. GAME PLAY: Gather a representative group of 12 – 18 stakeholders committed to finding a solution that works by the end of the exercise. Then, play out different scenarios arranging the components to see what “fits” inside the boundary constraint. This can be as one group or with teams working in parallel then comparing and combining results. Along the way, you can discuss and document the merits of each component, the trade-offs, and other options. Do this multiple times to take the pressure off getting it right the first time and photograph each iteration so that you can compare.

4. BONUS ROUND: As an additional option, once you’ve agreed on what fits inside the boundary constraint, you can also continue the discussion to relate the different elements by arranging the components on a sheet; for instance, which programs within the budget depend on each other? What should the sequence of meeting activities be? What spaces within the building should be next to each other?

By making the constraints visible and tangible, you enable a better conversation and unlock the creativity of your group to solve problems together. You also have a visible record of the decisions made as well as a shared sense within the group of what’s involved, how the different components go together, and what’ve you’ve agreed on.

————————–

*  Scott Francisco developed a space planning facilitation tool called the Sandbox which uses a kit of parts to try out different workplace design concepts within a limited amount of space. You can read more about it here and here. We subsequently took the principles of the Sandbox and applied it more broadly to the kinds of exercises described above.

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Rating: 8.1/10 (8 votes cast)

Merrill Covey Matrix

Posted: August 29th, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for decision-making, Games for opening, Games for planning, Games for problem-solving, Games for team-building and alignment, Games for update or review meetings, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki | Tags: , , , , , | 2 comments »

Object of Play
Many of us are overwhelmed by our to-do lists, and work hard each day to accomplish just a few of our countless tasks. However, we tend to focus on urgent items while disregarding the importance of planning for tasks that are necessary to reach our overall goal. This negligence will lead to even more stress in the long run, as everything will eventually become urgent if not prepared for. Fortunately, Merrill Covey Matrix, based on  Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill’s description in their book First Things First, allows you to evaluate the urgency and importance of your tasks. The goal of this activity is to prioritize your to-do list in order to plan ahead and work efficiently. Play Merrill Covey Matrix with your team at work, key partners, or customers to clarify the purpose and value of your tasks and to discover which items should be minimized or eliminated.

Number of Players:
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play

1. Before your meeting, draw a 2×2 matrix on a large white board or poster. Label the axes as followed:

  • 2 left cells – Urgent
  • 2 right cells – Not urgent
  • 2 top cells – Important
  • 2 bottom cells– Not important

2. Distribute pens and plenty of sticky notes to your players; participants will use these to write tasks.

3. Allow 5 – 10 minutes for players to write to-do items on the post-its: one per note.

4. Have players present their tasks to the group. As a team, collaborate to identify where each to-do item should be placed on the matrix.

5. Once all of the notes are posted, rearrange the tasks in each cell in order of importance. Start thinking about how you can use the organization to make your to-do list more efficient. Keep in mind the value of each cell:

  • Cell 1: Urgent, important – these tasks should be at the top of your to-do list
  • Cell 2: Not urgent, important – these items are likely to be neglected, but are necessary for long-term success. Set aside time each week to focus on these in order to be more productive. We suggest making this cell a different color so you will remember its significance.
  • Cell 3: Urgent, not important – these tasks suck your time and are often the result of poor-planning. They should be minimized or eliminated.
  • Cell 4: Not urgent, not important – these items are trivial time-wasters that should be eliminated

6. Collaborate to clarify the value of the items and to identify which team members will be responsible for each task. Write down the new order of your to-do list, but make sure take a picture of the chart or leave it up so you can refer back to it.

Play Online

Now you can play Merrill Covey Matrix instantly online! Clicking on the picture to the right will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. Here, this image will be used as the “game board.” This chart is organized the same way as the in-person version, and the second cell is highlighted yellow to remind you of its importance. However, instead of post-it notes, there will be two different icons that players can drag onto the chart and describe to represent the tasks:

  • Green squares – priority tasks that require attention
  • Red square – tasks to minimize/eliminate

All moves can be seen in real time by each participant, so everyone can edit the positions and descriptions of the icons. Also, the integrated chat facility allows you and your players to collaborate to form the most efficient to-do list.

Strategy
Delegation is an integral part of time management. Rather than assuming everyone will work together on each item, you must assign tasks in order to prevent social loafing. This way, people will feel more responsible for certain items and will accomplish them more efficiently.

Considering how easy it is to neglect the items in the second cell, it is advised to highlight or surround the region with a different color to portray its significance, as seen in the images above. At the beginning of each week, set aside time to work on these necessary tasks.

Avoid creating a long, intimidating to-do lists by breaking it down into smaller lists. For example, consider creating a task sheet for each person or a group list for each day or week.

Key Points
While we are all busy working through our to-do lists, we may not be doing so as efficiently as we think. Play Merrill Covey Matrix to identify the purpose and value of your tasks and to minimize or eliminate time-wasters. Plan ahead to avoid unproductive busy work and to accomplish your goal in a productive manner.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (6 votes cast)

Circles and Soup

Posted: August 15th, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for decision-making, Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for planning, Games for problem-solving, Games for team-building and alignment, Games for update or review meetings, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki | Tags: , , , , , | No comments »

Object of Play
The goal of game, introduced by Diana Larsen, is to efficiently form high-quality plans through retrospective analysis by recognizing factors that are within the team’s control.  During retrospective activities, it is easy to hit a wall of unproductive blame. The moment the group reaches this barrier, “someone shoulds” and “if only you coulds” bounce around the room, knocking out any practical ideas for future advancement. Before determining what you can improve, you must first be clear on the dimensions you are able to regulate and what you need to adapt to. By identifying factors your team can control, influence, or cannot change, you can collectively discover how to respond to and overcome various situations.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of play
1 hour

How to play
1. Before your meeting, collect sticky notes or 3×5 notecards. In a white space (a poster, whiteboard, etc.), draw three concentric circles, leaving enough room between each one to place the notes. Each circle represents a different element:

  • Inner circle: “Team Controls” – what your team can directly manage
  • Middle circle: “Team Influences” –persuasive actions that your team can take to move ahead
  • Outer circle: “The Soup” – elements that cannot be changed. This term — explained further by James Shore – refers to the environment we work in and have adapted to. Ideas from the other 2 circles can identify ways to respond to the barriers floating in our “soup.”

2. Hand out the sticky notes to your internal team members and describe the significance of each circle.

3. Allow time for each person to write their ideas on sticky notes. Once finished, ask them to post their notes into the respective circles.

4. As a group, collaborate to identify how each idea can be used to improve your project. Ask team members to expand on their ideas in order to further develop potential plans.

Strategy
In earlier stages of your retrospection, it is best to concentrate on “Team Controls.” This allows you to identify immediate actions that can be taken. As you see what works, you can alter potential plans and respond to any restraints.

A neutral facilitator is recommended to keep the activity from becoming too emotional. Evaluating negative aspects of your project is a sensitive but necessary exercise, and can leave people feeling upset or hopeless. Avoid any discussions about blaming people or wishing something would happen. This frame of mind places the control out of the team’s hands, both halting all forward motion and creating a negative environment. Keep the atmosphere fun and enjoyable so people will feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

Online Circles and Soup

You can instantly play the Circles and Soup online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com.

As facilitator, email the game link to your staff to invite them to play. In the game, this picture is used as the “game board,” and you will find an icon of blue squares at the upper left corner. Each square represents an idea, which players describe and drag onto the respective circle.  As with the in-person version of the game, the game board is organized into three concentric circles, representing “Team Controls,” “Team Influences,” and “The Soup.”

Players can edit the placement and description of each square, 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.

Key Points
Negative self-evaluating activities often end up emotional and unproductive. Take advantage of this game’s visual organization and extensive collaboration to avoid the blame and hopelessness that cover up ideas for future improvement. By identifying factors your team can control, influence, or cannot change, you can collectively discover how to respond to and overcome various situations. Play Circles and Soup to determine what you can do to avoid barriers and gain insight on what actions will most effectively enhance your project.

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Rating: 7.4/10 (10 votes cast)

Actions for Retrospectives

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for closing, Games for decision-making, Games for design, Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for planning, Games for problem-solving, Games for update or review meetings, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki, Various | Tags: , , , , | 2 comments »

Object of Play
Analyzing past events can get repetitive, leading to a lack of creative ideas and dulled critical thinking. Without an engaging strategy, you could get stuck in a pit of unproductive ideas, causing you to lose all sense of direction and become blind to areas needing improvement. To resist this useless slump, Actions for Retrospectives, based on Nick Oostvogel’s Actions Centered, allows teams to examine multiple aspects of an event or project in order to form original ideas on how it can be enhanced in the future. Break free from the barriers of boring retrospective analysis strategies to discover how you can make your next project, meeting, conference, etc., a success.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play
1. Start by drawing a large 2×2 matrix with a square labeled “Actions” in the middle; this is designated for the changes that the team commits to making as a result of the retrospective. The four quadrants surrounding it represent different aspects of your event:

  • Puzzles: Questions for which you have no answer
  • Risks: Future pitfalls that can endanger the event
  • Appreciations: What you liked during the previous iteration
  • Wishes: Not improvements, but ideas of your ideal event

2. Provide the players with pens and sticky notes, preferably different colored notes for each quadrant. Have the participants write their ideas for “Appreciations,” “Puzzles,” “Risks,” and “Wishes” one category at a time, allowing 5 – 10 minutes for each section.  
3. Once players have written all their thoughts, ask them to post their notes on the chart. As a team, go through the ideas and cluster related ones together.
4. Discuss the novelty, feasibility, and impact of the ideas, and collaborate to analyze how they can be applied to the next event. Use this process to create practical, efficient “Actions” in the middle.

Strategy
There are many techniques you can use to amplify the benefits of this game. For instance, making players feel comfortable sharing their ideas is crucial to attaining high-quality results. One way to do so is to describe “Risks” as possible improvements, rather than negative aspects that could ruin the event. This will encourage participants to share their ideas about what should be done to ensure the success of the event without them feeling as though they are criticizing others. Also, to increase players’ concentration, you can wait to write and describe the titles of each section until just before it is time to think of ideas related to them. This will force players to focus on one category at a time. Don’t forget to create a playful environment so participants will let their thoughts flow and form higher quality ideas.

Actions for Retrospective has many applications in the business world. It can also be used for any product, service, or section of your company to identify how they can be improved. Take advantage of the game’s organized format and extensive collaboration to advance toward your potential.

Play Online
Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. Here, this image will be used as the “game board,” and there will be five different icons that players can drag onto the chart and describe to capture their ideas.

  • Puzzles = question marks
  • Risks = bombs
  • Appreciations = smiley faces
  • Wishes = stars

As with the in-person version, the chart is divided into five quadrants for the five categories of thoughts.

All moves can be seen in real time by each participant, so everyone can collaborate to edit the ideas. Also, you can use the integrated chat facility to encourage the players to expand on their ideas and come up with fresh insights.

Key Points
This unique strategy involves teamwork and spatial organization so your group can think differently about retrospectives and brainstorm changes for progress. Also, by writing thoughts down and working together, participants will be more comfortable providing ideas for how to improve the event rather than feeling as if they are criticizing past ideas. Play Actions for Retrospectives to reflect on the past in order to advance toward the future.

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Rating: 8.1/10 (10 votes cast)

Bang-for-the-Buck

Posted: July 6th, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for decision-making, Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for planning, Games for problem-solving, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki | Tags: , , , , | No comments »

Object of Play
Bang-for-the-Buck involves collaboration among the product manager and development team to prioritize backlog items. Rather than blindly moving down your agenda without any direction, this game allows you to analyze the costs and benefits of each task, and to organize them in a way that shows you where to begin and in what order to go in. Graph each item against cost and value so you can prioritize your to-do list and start checking items off.

Number of Players

5 – 8

Duration of Play

1 hour

How to Play

  1. Before the meeting, draw a graph with the “value” of the items on the y-axis and the “cost” of them on the x-axis, organizing each axis as a Fibonacci number. Write each backlog item on a sticky note and post them by the chart.
  2. Next, give your players sticky notes and pens so they can each write other backlog items. Have them place their tasks along with the ones you posted.
  3. As a group, take time to discuss where each item belongs on the graph. The product manager should focus on what the “value” position of the task is, while the development team concentrates on the “cost” placement on the x-axis. With multiple players, you can get different perspectives on the aspects of each item.
  4. After all the items have been posted, use the chart to get started on your agenda. Follow the graphed items in a clockwise order to optimize value delivery.

Strategy

This game is helpful to prioritize both short-term and long-run tasks. If one item must be accomplished soon but is too costly to start right away, work together to identify how to move it to the left on the graph. By comparing the value and cost of each item, you can collaborate to alter approaches for the tasks depending on which are most important. The discussion and visualization involved in Bang-for-the-Buck helps you think differently about where to begin working. This not only increases efficiency and productivity, but also allows you to see an impact faster.

Bang-for-the-Buck Online

Clicking on this image will start an online version of Bang-for-the-Buck  at innovationgames.com. You’ll see this image as the “game board” and an icon of a light bulb in the top left corner of this window. The light bulb represents the backlog items you want to prioritize. To add a backlog item onto the game board, simply drag it from the top left and describe it.
While any player can move a light bulb at any time, the game works best when the product manager focuses on getting the light bulbs in the right place vertically, while the development team puts the items in the right place horizontally.

Use the integrated chat facility to negotiate about the items. And any player can edit the items to keep track of the agreements of the team. This means that items will move around during the game as the value of an item increases or decreases or the development team considers various ways of implementing an item.

To get the final results of the game, simply download the Excel spreadsheet. All of the items and their Fibonacci values will be available to you for post-processing, including all of the chats.

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Graphic Gameplan

Posted: April 6th, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for decision-making, Games for design, Games for planning, Games for team-building and alignment, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki | 2 comments »

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Object of Play

Plenty of us are visionaries, idea generators, or, at the very least, suggestion makers. But ideas never come to fruition without a plan. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.” Following up on a big idea with an executable action plan is one of the monumental differences between teams and companies that are merely good and those that are outstanding. That’s why this activity deserves special attention. The Graphic Gameplan shows you how you’ll get where you want to go with a project.

Number of Players

Small groups, but can also be done individually

Duration of Play

30 minutes to 2 hours

How to Play

1. Before the meeting, think of one or more projects that need to get traction.

2. In a large, white space, preferably 3–4 feet high by 6–12 feet wide, draw a picture similar to the following.

3. Display the graphic on the meeting room wall and tell the players that the goal ofthe meeting is to get consensus around specific tasks required to complete a project.

4. Write the name of the first project to be discussed at the top left of the first column.As the group leader, you can write all associated projects downward in that same column or you can ask the players to add projects that they agree need attention.Either way, you should end up with the relevant projects listed in the leftmost column.

5. Based on the projects listed, either tell the group the time frame and write the milestones in days, weeks, or months along the top row, or ask what they think it should be and write that time frame along the top. (Note: you can also establish a timeline after step 8.)

6. Sticky notes in hand, ask the players to choose a project and agree aloud on the first step required to accomplish it. Write their contribution on the sticky note and post it in the first box next to that project.

7. Ask the players for the second, third, and fourth steps, and so on. Keep writing their comments on sticky notes until they’re satisfied that they’ve adequately outlined each step to complete the project.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for every project on your display, until the game plan is filled out.

Strategy

Completing a game plan as a group has two major benefits. The first is that it breaks big projects into manageable chunks of work, which encourages anyone responsible for a project. The second is that because the “group mind” creates the game plan, it raises the quality of the flow of project management. It becomes less likely that important steps are left out and more likely that the project is approached thoughtfully and strategically.But as you post the sticky notes, don’t assume that the first flow the group maps is the best one. Ask the players challenging questions about their comments: Does this have to happen first? Can these two steps be combined? How are steps related across projects?Do steps in one project affect the progress or outcome of another? Ask hard questions to help the group get to the best place and write any food for thought on a flip chart nearby.

When determining the timeline to write across the top, it’s important to note that it can be determined after the project steps are established. A time frame written beforehand can impact the steps people are willing and able to take, so think about whether it serves the facilitation process better by assigning time before or after the play is complete.

If you find that the players want to assign tasks to specific people or departments as they go, let them. Simply add the names of the responsible parties to each sticky note (obviously,these assignments should be realistic). And if the players want to discuss available resources, or a lack thereof, ask them to share what they expect to need in order to complete the projects and capture that on a flip chart in the room.

The game plan can be customized with several rows and columns in order to support more complex projects. You can draw however many rows and columns you’d like as long as you have sticky notes that will fit within. Whatever the matrix looks like, the visual that results from this group discussion can serve as the large-scale, step-by-step of a project, or its contents can be funneled into more formal project management software or some other platform used by the organization. Either way, the discussion around creating it will be of significant value.

  • Optional activity: Draw smaller versions of the game plan on flip-chart paper and have breakout groups tackle specific projects using markers and small sticky notes. Then ask each group to present their approach to the larger group and to get feedback on the steps they proposed.

The Graphic Gameplan is based on the Leader’s Guide to Accompany the Graphic Gameplan Graphic Guide from The Grove Consultants International’s strategic visioning process,which involves using a template of the same name.

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