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The Innovation Games

The Innovation Games

Let’s start with the games that kicked off everything – the original Innovation Games® from the book. Then you can scroll down and find other collaboration games that have been created on the amazing Conteneo platform.

Prune the Product Tree

Shape Your Product to Market Needs

Gardeners prune trees to control their growth. Sometimes the pruning is artistic, and we end up with shrubs shaped like animals or interesting abstract shapes. Much of the time the pruning is designed to build a balanced tree that yields high-quality fruit. The process isn’t about “cutting,” it is about “shaping.” Use this metaphor to help create the product your customers desire.

The Game
Start by drawing a large tree on a whiteboard or butcher paper or printing a graphic image of a tree as a large format poster. Thick limbs represent major areas of functionality within your system. The inside of the tree contains leaves that represent features in the current release. Leaves that are placed at the outer edge of the canopy represent new features. The edge of the tree represents the future. Write potential new features on several index cards, ideally shaped as leaves. Ask your customers to place desired features around the tree, shaping its growth. Do they structure a tree that is growing in a balanced manner? Does one branch, perhaps a core feature of the product, get the bulk of the growth? Does an underutilized aspect of the tree become stronger? We know that the roots of a tree (your support and customer care infrastructure) need to extend at least as far as its canopy. Do yours?

Remember the Future

Understand Your Customers’ Definition of Success

“What should our product do?” Ah, yes, the seemingly open-ended question that many times isn’t that open ended at all. Most of the time, what your product should do is some reasonable extrapolation of what it has done in the past. Your cell phone should have better signal strength, longer battery life, and be lighter. So should your laptop. And your car should be safer, faster, more stylish, and get better gas mileage. The question “What should our product do?” is therefore often trivially answered: “Your product should be better.” Which should make you wonder, are you asking the right question? And are you asking it in the right way?

The Game
Hand each of your customers a few pieces of paper. Ask them to imagine that it is sometime in the future and that they’ve been using your product almost continuously between now and that future date (it could be a month, quarter, year, or, for strategic planning purposes, five years or even a decade—pick a time frame that is appropriate for your research goals). Now, ask them to go even further—an extra day, week, month. Ask your customer to write down, in as much detail as possible, exactly what your product will have done to make them happy (or successful or rich or safe or secure or smart; choose the set of adjectives that works best for your product).

Spider Web

Understand Product Relationships

All products and services coexist within a larger context of an ecosystem of related, complementary, and even competitive products and services. Unfortunately, product designers often fail to recognize and leverage the relationships within this ecosystem. This often means they miss innovative opportunities to create happier customers and capture more revenue. The Spider Web game helps you understand how your customer sees the relationships between your product and service and other products and services. You can then use this information to capture more revenue by creating innovations around these relationships.
One kind of innovation occurs when you realize that you can do more with your current product. This discovery often leads you to change your product’s boundary, or the demarcation between your product and other products, or between recommended and actual usage. Of course, the creator of the product or service is not usually the person who discovers the new usage. I don’t think that Proctor and Gamble intended for Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets to be used for dissolving soap scum from shower doors or for wiping up sawdust from a woodworking shop, but these are common alternative uses for Bounce.4
Another kind of innovation occurs when you realize that you can create a better total solution by establishing partnerships between your offering and other offerings. A financial-services firm might partner with an estate-planning firm to create a better total solution for families with young children. A yogurt maker might partner with a cereal manufacturer to create a healthy new snack that leverages both brands. A human resources software vendor might integrate its application with a payroll provider to eliminate errors that occur through redundant data entry.

The Game
Put the name of your product or service in the center of a circle. Ask your customers to draw other products and services that they think are related to your product. As they draw these products and services, ask them to tell you when, how, and why these are used. Ask them to draw lines between the different products and services. Encourage them to use different colors, weights, or styles to capture important relationships (for example, important relationships can be drawn with a thicker line or a different color pen). The Spider Web game works well with the Start Your Day game. After your customers review when and where they use your offering, you can explore in a subsequent session the various relationships that exist between the different products and services that they use throughout the day.

Product Box

Identify the Most Exciting Product Features

The aisles of supermarkets around the world are filled with colorful product boxes from all over the world. They tell us of products that are new. Improved. New and improved. They tell us how these products will make us thinner, smarter, sleeker, happier. In the process, the best boxes help move that box from the shelf and into our home.
Product Box lets you leverage your customers’ collective retail consumer experiences by asking them to design a box for your product. Not just any box, but a box that represents the product that they want to buy. In the process, you’ll learn what your customers think are the most important, exciting features of a given product or service.

The Game
Ask your customers to imagine that they’re selling your product at a trade show, retail outlet, or public market. Give them a few cardboard boxes and ask them to design the product box that they would buy. The box can contain anything they want—marketing slogans that they find interesting, pictures, price points. They can build elaborate boxes through the materials you’ll provide or just write down the phrases and slogans they find most interesting. When finished, ask your customer to use their box to sell your product to you and the other customers in the room.

Buy a Feature

Prioritize Features

Which feature will entice customers to purchase your product? Which feature will cause customers to upgrade? Which feature will make customers so happy that they’ll ignore or tolerate the features that they wish you would fix or remove?
Product planners endlessly debate these and other kinds of questions. Choosing the right set of features to add to a release often marks the difference between short-term failure or long-term success. Unfortunately, too many product planners make this choice without involving the people most affected by it—their customers. The Buy a Feature game improves the quality of this decision by asking your customers to help you make it.

The Game
Create a list of potential features and provide each with a price. Just like for a real product, the price can be based on development costs, customer value, or something else. Although the price can be the actual cost you intend to charge for the feature, this is usually not required. Customers buy features that they want in the next release of your product using play money you give them. Make certain that some features are priced high enough that no one customer can buy them. Encourage customers to pool their money to buy especially important and/or expensive features. This will help motivate negotiations between customers as to which features are most important.
This game works best with four to seven customers in a group, so that you can create more opportunities for customers to pool their money through negotiating. Unlike the Product Box game, the Buy a Feature game is based on the list of features that are likely to be in your development road map.

Start Your Day

Understand When and How Your Customer Uses Your Product

Products might seem static, but they’re not. Well, at least not like you might think. The product may be static, but our relationship to the product isn’t. It changes based on how we use it. And how we use a product changes based on lots of factors, including our age, experience with this product or other similar products, or even our location. One of the biggest modifiers of how we use a product is when we use it. By focusing on the when, you’ll get better insights into the how.
Consider that the insulated mug that keeps your coffee hot in the morning keeps your juice cold in the afternoon. Chances are pretty good that you use your financial planning software differently when you review your monthly budget versus when you prepare your taxes. You may rely on your favorite email/scheduling program to help you start your day by planning it and to help you end your day by tracking which “to-dos” actually got done.

The Game
COn preprinted, poster-sized calendars or on a simple timeline drawn on a large sheet of paper, ask your customers to describe the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly events that are related to their use of your product. Ask them to describe events in time frames appropriate for your product—beginnings and ends of days or weeks, recurring events such as birthdays, one-time events such as installing a new software system, special events that are unique to an industry or sector (like a conference), or days in which everything goes horribly wrong and they’re looking for help. While they’re doing this, be alert for how your product helps, or hinders, their day.

Show and Tell

Identify the Most Important Artifacts Created by Your Product

Much like a child excitedly sharing his most prized possession at school during show-and-tell, customers are often equally excited about the results that they can produce with your product, and they’ll tell you all about it—if you let them. In the process, you’ll gain new insights into what really matters.

The Game
Ask your customers to bring examples of artifacts created or modified by your product or service. Ask them to tell you why these artifacts are important and when and how they’re used. For example, if your product is a software system to manage invoices, ask them to show you the invoices, reports, or spreadsheets that they’ve created through using your product. If you make running shoes, ask your customers to bring you several pairs of worn shoes and tell you about all their runs.
Pay careful attention to anything that surprises you. What did you expect customers to create or modify that they have ignored? What things can you do with your product or service that aren’t used? What was used in unexpected ways? What do these tell you?

Me and My Shadow

Identify Your Customers’ Hidden Needs

Designers have a wealth of ideas on how their products can and should be used. These idealized notions keep competitors and quality assurance people in business, as designers never seem to include the idea that a cell phone makes a great door stop, or that a remote controlled toy dump truck is the best way to move your keys, wallet, and the TV remote control across the room after you’ve had knee surgery, or that the best way to soothe a crying baby is to put them on top of the washer or dryer.6 Of course, few of your customers will remember to tell you about these experiences. To learn about them, you need to watch your customers use your product on their terms, not yours.

The Game
Shadow your customers while they use your product or service. Literally. Sit or stand next to them and watch what they do. Periodically ask them, “Why are you doing that?” and “What are you thinking?” Take along a camera and make photos of key activities and the context in which work is accomplished. Ask for copies of important artifacts created or used by your customers while they are doing the work. Bring along other customers and use them as interpreters to explain what a customer is doing, help you ask clarifying questions as to why the customer is doing things this way. During the game, ask your other customers to share whether they do things the same way with the person you’re observing, and watch how your customers explore and even debate the various approaches they bring to using your products and services.
Me and My Shadow differs from The Apprentice in that Me and My Shadow focuses on observation and The Apprentice focuses on experience.

Give Them a Hot Tub

Use Outrageous Features to Discover Hidden Breakthroughs

Brainstorming is an attempt to leverage the creative power of a group of people who are trying to solve a problem by encouraging them to come up with as many different ideas as possible. Then the ideas are evaluated and one or more are selected as potential candidates for solving the problem, presumably in an innovative way.
When brainstorming is done well, it can be effective in generating breakthroughs. Consider, though, that traditional approaches to brainstorming are biased toward internal groups of people. That’s okay, but I’ve found that the real breakthroughs come when you work directly with customers. So, instead of generating and evaluating your own “crazy” ideas, the Give Them a Hot Tub game encourages you to generate your crazy ideas and let your customers determine just how crazy those ideas really are!

The Game
Write several features on note cards, one feature per card. Include several outrageous features. For example, if you’re making a portable MP3 player, try adding features like “heats coffee,” “cracks concrete,” or “conditions dog hair.” If you’re making a system that manages payroll, try adding features like “plans family reunions” or “refinishes wooden floors.” If you’re building an office building, add a hot tub in the lobby. What happens when a customer uncovers one of these outrageous features?

The Apprentice

Create Empathy for the Customer Experience

When you understand your customers’ needs so well that you can envision solutions to problems they may not realize they have, you are well on your path to creating innovative products and services. This game, which helps create empathy for the customer, allows you to take the path that leads to innovation with your customer at your side.

The Game
Ask your development team to perform the “work” of the system that they are building. If they’re creating a new masking tape for painters, ask them to work with real painters, using the masking tape in the field. If they’re creating a new professional oven, ask them to cook meals with a professional chef—not in a classroom, but in a real restaurant, where they have to experience the actual challenges of creating meals. If they’re building workflow management software for furniture delivery people, have them deliver furniture. They will gain direct knowledge of the problems customers face and empathy for how hard it may be to solve them.
Warning! Play this game with some common sense! This game is not recommended for such things as Formula One race car driving, neurosurgery, or high-explosives research.

20/20 Vision

Understand Customer Priorities

Effective product teams not only understand which set of features must be present to justify a release, they have carefully enumerated the ranking of each.8 They know which is “number one,” which is “number two.” They know which set of stakeholders care the most about number one, which care the most about number two, and so on. They also know that different market segments may not agree among these rankings, so they seek to understand differences among the market segments. The most effective product teams take this even further and can demonstrate how their prioritization supports larger business priorities (and when the business priorities aren’t clear, these teams clarify them!). The challenge is understanding the underlying qualitative motivations to market-driven priorities.

The Game
When you’re getting fitted for glasses, your optometrist will often ask you to compare two potential lenses by alternately showing each of them (“which of these lenses is better—number one or number two?”). Although it may take some time, eventually you’ll settle on the set of lenses that are best for your eyes. You can use a variant of this approach to help your customers see which priorities are best for them, as customers often have trouble “seeing” which features are the highest priority, especially if you’re asking them to compare several features at the same time.
Start by writing one feature each on large index cards. Shuffle the pile and put them face down. Take the first one from the top of the pile and put it on the wall. Take the next one and ask your customers if it is more or less important than the one on the wall. If it is more important, place it higher. If it is less important, put it lower. Avoid placing the item at the same level; try hard to rank each feature. Repeat this process with all your feature cards, and you’ll develop 20/20 vision for what your market really wants.

Speed Boat

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 okay, 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 customers’ most important concerns.

The Game
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 index card and place it under the boat as an anchor. They can also estimate how much faster the boat would go if that anchor were cut and add that to the card. Estimates of speed are really estimates of pain. Customers can also annotate the anchors created by other customers, indicating agreement on substantial topics. When customers are finished posting their anchors, review each one, carefully confirming your understanding of what they want to see changed in the system.

Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect Exams


Apprentice Test

What is it?

A multiple-choice online test that demonstrates a basic knowledge of Innovation Games.  Not required for certification, but a useful alternative to getting a lower-ranked belt.  Successfully passing this exam gives you 30 Training Credits — enough for a White Belt Certification.

Why do I care?

The Apprentice Testis a great option for new Collaboration Architects who are unable to take a Training class. Apprentice-level Certified Collaboration Architects can immediately to demonstrate their Innovation Games knowledge and get a foothold in the community.

How do I take the exam?

The exam will be online soon!

Certified Collaboration Architects Belts

What are they?

Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architects (CCA) are ranked by martial arts styled “belts” which identify the most active and skillful members of our community.  You earn belts by gaining Experience Credits and paying a certification fee.

Levels Belts Description
Apprentice White
You are new our community or have a had limited experience in the last year.  You may have taken some training classes or facilitated a few games.This most basic belt level is ideal for people who are just getting started or only play a few games per year.
Journeyman Green
You’ve gone beyond the basic training and demonstrated your skills in the field.  CCAs with these belts have facilitated a moderate number of games in the last year. These belts are useful for people who frequently facilitate games, but are not interested in becoming producers.  The higher level belts are more valuable because they indicate more facilitation experience.
Master Red
Coming soon!
Creating and producing a game is significantly harder than facilitating one. The highest levels CCAs have demonstrated the ability to produce games and pass a peer-reviewed exam. CCAs at this level are ideally suited for producing large events.

Why are they important?

A higher level belt means that you are a more active and experienced member of our Collaboration Architect community.  When searching through our “Find Your Expert” directory, companies will prefer choosing higher ranked collaboration architects.

In the future, we will offer benefits to higher ranked belts that will improve your ability to promote yourself in the community.


How does this work?

You earn “Experience Credits” for taking training classes,  facilitating games and producing events.  These credits qualify you for “Belts” within the system.

After you earn enough credits for online games, you will receive a notification email and message on your profile page.  You then simply pay the annual fee and you’re certified!

For in-person credits, you will submit an in-person credit report using the in-person credit reporting form in Innovation Games Online.

Each belt level requires “Experience Credits” or XC.  This score is the sum of all of your other types of credits:

Experience Credits = Training Credits + Facilitation Credits + Producer Credits

What does your experience qualify you for?  How much does it cost?  Check out the table below

Level Belt ExperienceCredits FacilitatorCredits ProducerCredits Fee Experience Credit Combination Examples (others are possible!)
White 30 0 0 $50 Pass “Apprentice Test”
Apprentice Yellow 60 0 0 $75 Take “IG For Agile Teams” training class
Orange 120 0 0 $100 Take “IG for Customer Understanding” training class
Green 300 90 0 $100 Facilitate 30 games
Journeyman Blue 600 150 0 $100 Facilitate 60 games
Purple 850 250 0 $100 Facilitate 85 games
Red 1100 180 100 $75 Facilitate 80 games. Produce 1 event with 6 Facilitators
Master Brown 1400 150 400 $50 Facilitate 80 game. Produce 2 events with 6 Facilitators
Black 1750 100 800 $0 Facilitate 85 games. Produce 3 events with 6 Facilitators


A few notes:

Innovation Games® Collaboration Architect who meets the requirements within the last 24 months (Feb 1, 2012) are entitled to a $100 discount — enough for a free Orange Belt.

If you are already certified and qualify for the next belt level, you may pay the pro-rated difference between the belt ranks.  For example, going from White to Yellow Belt after six months is $12.50.

Training Credits are not required for any belt level.  However, they do count towards your Experience Credit total.  For example, successfully passing the Apprentice Exam gives 30 credits and enough points to qualify for a White Belt.

Please see our FAQ and Policies for more information.


Certified Collaboration Architect Program FAQ


Program Overview

What is a Collaboration Architect?

A key strength of Innovation Games® is the power of collaboration.  People who play our games work together to develop ideas and solutions that would be impossible by themselves.  Companies use our games to collaborate with customers to build better products and services.  You do not simply “facilitate” a game — you design an experience that maximizes the collaboration between all participants.  We are now referring to all people who facilitate or produce these experiences as Collaboration Architects.


Why is being a “Certified” Collaboration Architect important?

We created the Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect (CCA) Program to help companies using Innovation Games find the experienced partners they need to have successful engagements, and help you market and promote yourself to those companies.  Certified Collaboration Architects will be able to create public profiles in Innovation Games Online, enabling companies to find the CCA with the right experience, background, and skills to deliver the insights they need.


What are roles currently eligible for “credits” in the Certified Collaboration Architect Program?

A facilitator: someone who facilitates or leads players through the games. There may be more that one game played.
A producer: someone who produces an event where there are multiple facilitators and/or games.


I am an Innovation Games Trained Facilitator
– what does this program mean for me?

The Certified Collaboration Architect (CCA) program replaces the old Innovation Games Trained Facilitator (IGTF) program.  We are granting retroactive experience credits for training classes completed and online games facilitated after January 24, 2011.


I am a Innovation Games Qualified Instructor
– what does this program mean for me?

In recognition of your contribution to the Innovation Game Community, we are granting all (Innovation Games Qualified Instructors) IGQIs Orange Belt status for as long as you remain in good standing.

Innovation Games Qualified Instructors may also claim in-person credits for Innovation Games (and other approved techniques) that are taught as part of your IGQI courses. Contact us for more information.

We are granting retroactive experience credits because of your status as IGQI,  as well as any training classes completed or online games facilitated after January 24, 2011, so your actual certification level may be higher than Orange.

More information on Experience Credits, Belt Levels, and Fees are available here.


Certification Process

What are the Certification Fees?

You can find a listing of our certification fees here.


How can I upgrade my Certification Belt level?

As soon as you earn enough credits to qualify for the next belt level, we’ll send you a note inviting you to upgrade.  You’ll need to pay the certification fee minus the prorated value left on your previous belt.


How long does Certification last?

Certification lasts for one year.  If you upgrade your belt before your Certification expires, the expiration date resets to one year from your upgrade.


What if I don’t pay to renew my certification?

You will lose your certification until you choose to renew it.


How do I become an Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect?

You must earn “Experience Credits” through facilitating games, producing games or taking training classes.  After earning enough credits you a pay the certification fee.



Experience Credits
-In Person and/or Online Games

How long do credits last?

Your training credits are good for eighteen months.  Facilitator and Production credits expire at different times based on the Belt level when you earned the credit. See Credits Expiration for more information.



What games and techniques qualify for the credit?

You earn credits for facilitating or producing games.  A “game” is any official Innovation Game® and Gamestorming techniques.  We’ll be adding support for similar techniques soon.  Please see this page for a listing of currently supported games and techniques.   We support both reporting credits for both online and in-person games. Online credits are tracked automatically by the system. In-person credits must be claimed by submitting an in-person credit report when logged in to Innovation Games Online.



Are there any special criteria for online games?

Yes.  An online game must have 2 players, must be 15 minutes in length duration, and have 10 chat messages to count for credit.



Training Credits

Can I earn a Belt without a course?

YES! instead of taking a class, you may earn a White Belt by passing the Apprentice Exam or facilitating a few games.


Can I earn higher belts without taking courses?

Yes! You can earn credits by facilitating or producing games.


Then why should I take the course? What are the course benefits?

Taking a course jump starts your certification and gives you a concentrated and practical experience that enables you to earn a higher level belt in one step.


Are exams required for certification?

You do not need to pass an exam for the Apprentice and Journeyman belts.


How do I earn Traning Credits?

You earn Traning Credits by taking classes taught by Innovation Games Qualified Instructors(IGQI) by taking the Apprentice Exam.


Producer Credits

How do I earn Producer Credits?

“Producer Credits” are earned by organizing games or a set of games that requires more than one Collaboration Architect for facilitation.  This is handled automatically online and through the self-reporting system for in-person games.

Our Story

Long Before We Called Them “Innovation Games®” Luke Was Playing Games

The Innovation Games® story begins in one of Luke’s first managerial assignments at EDS, where he was asked to manage a team of engineers that showed zero empathy for their customers. To solve this problem, Luke had the engineers spend a few weeks “doing the job” of the customers. By the time these engineers had gained some empathy for their internal customers, they were committed to creating a better system, and Luke had created the foundation for the game The Apprentice.

After EDS, Luke joined ObjectSpace, where he honed his training skills by managing the training program, designing and teaching a variety of technical classes. In these classes, Luke and others at ObjectSpace did things like pair programming (before we called it pair programming) and encouraged students to use lo-fidelity techniques to understand systems. The many classes Luke designed and taught produced early versions of the games Spider Web, Start Your Day and Product Box.

In 1996, while still at ObjectSpace, Luke published his first book, Journey of the Software Professional which contains the first incarnation of what was to become the game Remember the Future. It also discusses the importance of language and provided the background in cognitive psychology and organizational behavior that drive the design of the games.


Games at Aurigin Systems and Aladdin Knowledge Systems

In early 1997, Luke, like so many others, was smitten with the fast-growing internet business craze that was sweeping Silicon Valley. So, he packed up his bags and moved to Mountain View, CA, to join Aurigin Systems, Inc., a pioneer in the field of Intellectual Property Asset Management. As VP of Engineering and Product Management, Luke started to use game techniques even more heavily. Games we played at Aurigin, both internally and with customers, included Remember the Future and early versions of Speed Boat and Buy a Feature. Armed with the success of these games, Luke continued to explore games at his next company, Aladdin Knowledge Systems, where he managed a global team. In the process, he found that games were embraced by every culture, from Germans to Israeli’s!


Enthiosys and the Games

In 2003 Luke founded Enthiosys with Qualcomm as Enthiosys’s anchor client. A seminal moment in the development of Innovation Games® was a sales training program that Luke designed and managed on behalf of Qualcomm that included customers – and Innovation Games®. In that first “official” games session we played Product Box and Speed Boat. The results of this session included a new Data Warehouse product offering (created with Ken Collier, who is also an Innovation Games Certified Collaboration Architect).

Joan Waltman suggested that Luke write a book on these techniques to share them with others. So he did. Ultimately, he gathered up and documented 12 of the best games that he and his team had been using with customers in the book “Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products through Collaborative Play” published in 2006.


Innovation Games® Goes Online!

Eventually, in early 2008 the technology landscape evolved to the point where it seemed that the games could be extended to an online experience. More importantly, we had a visionary customer (SAP) who wanted to apply these techniques at scale. So, with customer demand and money in hand, Luke set out on a mission to bring the in-person games online the games online. The first release of the first game, Buy a Feature Online (affectionately known as BaFO in the office) went live in the summer of 2008. Since that early first release, we’ve continued to refine and improve our original online game as well as add an entire visual collaboration gaming platform.


The Innovation Games Company

In the summer of 2009, our team realized that the games were being used to solve a broader set of problems than originally described in his book. From strategic sales to corporate strategy, from market research to product innovation, the games are being used to solve problems. Because of this, Luke made the decision to let Innovation Games® loose from its Enthiosys nest. So, Innovation Games was split between Enthiosys and continues to operate as a separate entity.

We hope you liked our story and will join us for the next chapter.


The comprehensive program rewards skill and experience in using Innovation Games, Gamestorming and related techniques to solve business problems.

April 12, 2013 — Mountain View, CA. The Innovation Games® Company, the leading producer of online and in-person serious games for business, today announced the launch of its “Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect Program”. Built around skill and experience with planning, playing and facilitating serious games to accomplish business goals, the program connects organizations needing Innovation Games services with experienced Innovation Games Certified Collaboration Architects (CCAs).

“The Certification program has evolved from direct requests from our largest customers to help them identify and hire qualified facilitators. We’re also seeing companies list Innovation Games® as prerequisites for employment, which matches the increasing demand we see in the business world, as more and more companies integrate serious games into their business processes,” says Luke Hohmann, CEO and Founder of The Innovation Games® Company.

“With more than 1,000 people trained in our methods—both inside and outside of corporations—-and a growing user base for our online software,” Hohmann continues, “it was time to create a program to connect Collaboration Architects with the organizations putting serious games to work.”

The “Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect Program” enables individuals who facilitate and produce Innovation Games® and similar techniques to more effectively market their services to potential clients. Through the program, Certified Collaboration Architects earn “Belts” for facilitating and producing both online and in-person games using Innovation Games®, Gamestorming and other approved techniques within the community.

CCAs can be ranked at 9 belt levels, designating them as Apprentice through Master Certified Collaboration Architects. In the months ahead, CCAs will be able to also earn and be recognized for special achievements or skills, such as being an excellent discussion leader, or possessing unique knowledge of a given domain or industry. Higher-ranked CCAs get more options to promote themselves in the community.

Organizations needing serious games expertise win big with this program. They can search the “Find an Expert” database to find Certified Collaboration Architects with the right mix of skills and experience for their research, collaboration and strategic planning needs. This allows companies to get the best insights from their serious games engagements.

For more information about how the Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architects Program can help you succeed, check out our website or contact us at


About The Innovation Games® Company

The Innovation Games® Company is the leading producer of serious games—online and in-person—for business. Innovation Games helps organizations large and small get actionable insights into customer needs and preferences to improve performance, through collaborative play, having worked with such companies as Cisco, Reed Elsevier, Yahoo!, Qualcomm, SAP, Emerson Climate Technologies and more. To learn more about Innovation Games® Online, our online game platform for real-time, distributed collaboration and Knowsy for Sales, our sales enablement game, visit

To learn more about the Certified Collaboration Architect Program, please visit:

What is a Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect?

An Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect (CCA) is someone who facilitates and/or produces Innovation Games®, Gamestorming, and other supported games.

CCAs earn credits that qualify for different certification levels.  At the moment, there are three ways to earn credits:

  • Sign up for an Innovation Games Online account and start facilitating games!
  • Produce and/or facilitate in-person Innovation Games, Gamestorming, and other approved techniques and submit an in-person game credit report.
  • Take a training class.


Why do I want to be a Innovation Games® Certified Collaboration Architect?

As the use of Innovation Games and related techniques have grown, the need for experienced and skilled individuals to deliver serious games services has expanded. Certified Collaboration Architects will be able to demonstrate their expertise and earn higher rates because clients will pay for the best talent!

This Certification Program’s design rewards and develops better Collaboration Architects through experience and demonstration of skill. This means better games and thus better results for companies. Better results mean more projects for you.  Please click on the following to learn more about different parts of the program:



Belts Martial arts styled “belts” which identify the most active and skillful members of our community.  You earn belts through gaining Experience Credits and paying a certification fee.  The highest level belts are reserved for CCAs who produce games.
Experience Credits Experience Credits are a measure of your progress in our community.  Everyone is different! You may earn credits by taking training classes, facilitating games and/or producing events.  Higher-level belts have minimum requirements for facilitating and producing games.
Policies An overview of the program’s policies.


Coming Soon!


KIDS “Knowledge Information Domain” or KID is a self-claimed area of claimed knowledge that is verified both by players and client companies.  Companies will want collaboration architects and players with the right knowledge to be involved with their games.
Commendations Badges that are given as rewards for behavior within the Innovation Games system.  Some commendations are for fun while others represent the highest level of performance and will be highly sought after by CCAs and companies alike.  Can you collect them all?
Skills Players and client companies feedback on specific areas of the collaboration architect’s performance during a game. Architects use this information to improve their games and companies use it to choose the best Architects.
Apprentice Test  A multiple choice, online test that demonstrates a basic knowledge of Innovations Games®.  Not required for certification, but a useful alternative for earning a lower-ranking belt.


Transforming Enterprise Collaboration Through Expertise Communities

As organizations around the world have embraced Innovation Games® to address an array of needs within their own internal business, or, as consultants who use our techniques to provide games-based services to their clients’, we have constantly tried to generate the materials and documentation needed to support those efforts. And while we’re pleased that we’ve made progress in creating these materials (books, websites, a LinkedIn group, reusable templates and other assets), we know that we can do even more. In this post, I’m pleased to announce the release of, a community-friendly, comprehensive, adaptive and customizable website focused on helping you leverage one of the more common uses of the games: The tactical and strategic prioritization of product features, project portfolios, sales deals and other items with internal and external stakeholders.

But this post isn’t about the content (we call it pcom for short).This post is about is about the pcom strategy and why we think pcom represents the future of how enterprise software companies must foster their customers and their larger ecosystem through a new approach to the development and sharing of expertise. When you’re finished, I hope that you’ll want to copy, extend and improve pcom inside your own expertise community. Yup. You read that correctly. I want you to copy pcom into your company.

Prioritization Through Games

Our goals for pcom are quite straightforward:

The objective of this system is to collect and enhance all of the techniques and tools that are available to help improve your prioritization efforts.

We’re starting with the obvious – lifting chapters from my book and rewriting them for the web, providing examples, and expanding the content with more hints and techniques. All of this makes pcom sounds like lots of other websites: nice documentation. And, since it is built on top of WordPress, it is easy for us to open the site to fellow contributors in our growing community. However, while many companies think this is the end of their documentation, we think it is just the beginning.

The Rise of Enterprise Expertise Communities

Homo sapiens has always organized expertise. Urg, the expert ax maker, communed and collaborated with Pulm, his apprentice, to impart knowledge. Urg and Pulm, in turn, sought out other ax makers from other tribes, and so knowledge grew. It wasn’t always easy to share knowledge; certain cultures guarded certain kinds of expertise carefully, and others took knowledge by force. Leaving this kind of knowledge and expertise-sharing aside, we’re left with a massive amount of healthy sharing and knowledge within lots of communities. And the story of the Internet making it easier to find, join, and collaborate within these communities has been well told, typically under the banner “Social Software”.

Social Software, as a label, misses some key points when applied to what everyone is really trying to accomplish at work. At work, “social” isn’t the goal, and social software only exists as a collection of tools and capabilities that serve a larger purpose: helping each person develop enterprise expertise.

As I was working on this post, Harbrinder Kang, from Cisco, reminded me that humans commune because of a shared interest. At work, this shared interest is (typically) solving a problem. The need for expertise is driven when the means to solve the problem is associated with skill. One advantage of the wide-open internet is that it is super easy to find those people who have shared interests. And a key advantage of social software platforms is that they allow companies to develop knowledge and skill in an area deemed important.

You put these two together and you find that “Innovation Gamers” are members of an expertise community–a community that has developed a set of skills around solving certain kinds of problems. Our community members have expertise in designing, producing, facilitating, and post-processing in-person and online Innovation Games®, as well as related serious games, like the Gamestorming games. The specific sub-community of interest in this post deals with prioritization. We suspect other sub-communities will emerge.

Generic vs Enterprise Content

The benefit of pcom is that anyone can use it. Anyone can access it. And, over time, anyone in that community will be able to extend it. The drawback to public sharing of expertise starts with the content: pcom has generic content. What I mean by this is that the content in pcom is not tailored to any specific company or problem domain. The facilitation advice, while sound, isn’t really based on the juicy details that go into truly making any game great, from writing an invitation letter to answering challenging questions during the game.

Another way to think about the content of pcom concerns the nature of our clientele. It is pretty well known that companies and organizations like Qualcomm, Emerson Climate Technologies, Cisco, SAP, VeriSign, Reed Elsevier, the City of San Jose, Adobe, and Armstrong flooring are using Innovation Games®. And people are genuinely curious about the results of these games – “Hey, Luke, can I see a copy of the game results that you did for Yahoo! or Cisco?”.

Uh, No. You can’t. Those results are private.

But, not completely private. Just private to people outside of the company. They can and should be shared within the company. What these companies need is all of the content of pcom, customized and tailored to their needs. This customization would include, but not be limited to, the following:
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  • Examples and advice for writing company-specific invitation letters, with the right branding and tone.
  • Suggestions for finding game participants, including links to the corporate marketing team and/or people who manage user groups.
  • Lists of Innovation Games® Trained Facilitators within the company and trusted suppliers of Innovation Games® facilitation services.
  • Preferred vendors for producing in-person events.
  • Company policies for managing online games, especially Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
  • Controlled access to previous games for learning and sharing, and so forth.

This kind of sharing is the foundation of the transformations that companies adopting the games need in order to make the games a natural and normal part of their collaboration culture.

Kick-starting the Enterprise Expertise Community

A challenge of internal social platforms is “kick starting” the expertise that transforms a company. Innovation Games is one example of the many kinds of expertise that can transform a company. Agile Software Development is another. And so are things like Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, and, yes, social software itself (because to use social software effectively requires its own kind of expertise). However, as stated above, an enterprise expertise community needs the ability to extend the content in ways that are important to that community.

Which brings us back, full-circle, to pcom. We want you to copy pcom content, and implement/apply it in your (or your client’s) business. For Cisco, that means bringing it into an existing, thriving social software platform. For other companies, it might simply mean starting a new WordPress site (just like we did). Other implementations will grow and thrive in other environments. But in each case, it should change. It should be extended. You should make it your own.

Don’t worry about version control. There is no one “right way” to write an invitation letter, just like there are is no one “right way” to facilitate a game. We trust that when beliefs and practices of the public community diverge too much from the beliefs and practices of the private community, someone in these communities will take the initiative and make it right.

And, while we encourage you to immediately copy whatever you feel is useful, and begin adapting it to your companies’ needs (or, if you’re a consultant, to your clients’ needs), we want you to know that pcom is definitely a work in progress: as time goes on, the community will continue to expand and enhance the information found there. We’re doing this right now at Cisco – integrating pcom directly into Cisco’s IWE on Quad internal expertise community. We’re starting with a copy of the pcom content, which we’ll then tailor based on the work we’ve done with Cisco.

We’re looking forward to hearing your initial thoughts, and to building an ever-more robust tool for playing games to do real work.