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.

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