Bart Briers: Gamification — Because Everything Serious Needs a Laugh

You’re speaking at the IG Summit about Gamification and about how to convince management to Gamifiy. What can attendees expect from your session?
I will share a lot from my personal experience dealing with companies and their efforts around gamification. I want to explain tactics I used in convincing management to gamify — both tactics that worked and those that didn’t — and I hope we’ll be able to get into the matter of why some of them didn’t work.

Have you ever used games for work or just gamification?
I use games just as much, if not sometimes more than gamification in my work. Roleplaying for example, is a big part of all my training classes and other dealings with company management. Especially when giving feedback to a presented solution or a proposition, this technique is very valuable. The feedback given from the perspective of different role than the one a person usually performs is valued much more than it would be otherwise.

Many of the games I use are from the Gamestorming book or self-developed.

Do you commonly use gamification in your work? How?
I often use gamification in my training courses, but also in helping my clients with their strategic decision-making.

What has been your overall experience with games?
I’ve been working with games for over 15 years now, and my experience so far has been immensely positive. Games are very useful in showing people new approaches to solving seemingly unmanageable problems.

Do you have a favorite Innovation Game or Technique? Why?
There are so many. My favorite technique actually depends on what you try to achieve with the respective game. Is it about getting consensus? Is the goal to generate innovative ideas? If I had to pick one, then I’d take The Anti-Problem because it makes people think in a completely different way when they can’t find a solution to a problem. The anti-problem technique is an easy way to make them think about what can work, because it starts by brainstorming around the question “how can we make sure it won’t work” (the anti-problem) and then you derive a solution from that. It’s a great technique, especially for brainstorm-haters and negative thinkers.

What are you most looking forward to at the summit? Any particular sessions?
I’m looking forward to seeing some of the people and speakers that I met on a similar event in Belgium. And I’m curious to learn about some new serious games myself.

Cincinnati Innovation Summit – Collaborate to Innovate

Laura Richardson, VP of Business Development & Sales, Conteneo, Inc. (formerly the Innovation Games Company), is speaking at the Cincinnati Innovation Summit.

Her interactive session  Innovation Games: a fast, engaging approach to gaining customer insight is about the growing importance of the Lean Start-Up methodology for which Innovation Games present excellent tools for online and live collaborative games.

Find registration information here!

MEET THE SPEAKER: How to Give Innovation Games® a New Twist with Ant Clay

You’re speaking at the Innovation Games Summit about “The Flip Side of Innovation Games®”. What can attendees expect?
My session is about flipping Innovation Games®, showing how to receive even more value from these great techniques. I will explain the ‘outcome driven’ approach I use in flipping collaborative techniques to better solve challenges I face with my clients.
Attendees can expect to try some flipped games, such as new versions of Speed Boat and Start Your Day, and if there’s time, to flip some Innovation Games® together!

What has been your overall experience with doing work with games?
I’ve been using games for the last three years or more, and the more I use them, the more potential I see and the more excited I get! I use the games predominantly in my SharePoint consulting work–around Vision, Requirements, Governance and User Adoption/Change Management. I also had the chance earlier this year to modify some games and lead a facilitated workshop for a construction company to help them re-imagine their Corporate Social Responsibility Policy (CSR), which was amazing fun.
I love the way that using these techniques really helps you understand the organization, the dynamics and the attendees, as well as delivering clear insights into the problem or solution area. But for me, the main reason this area interests me is the positive experiences of the attendees. They enjoy using these techniques; they are engaged in the process; it feels like meaningful work, and most of all we all have a lot of fun.

What techniques/games do you use most frequently and why?
I would say the two most used games for me are Innovation Games Product Box and Hot Tub for facilitating requirements, or collaboration solutions such as SharePoint; I also extensively use the Gamestorming technique Cover Story for eliciting Project Visions.

Do you have a favorite Innovation Game or technique? Why is it your favorite?
They are all awesome in their own way. I don’t really have a favorite, but my modified Speed Boat activity (come to my session to find out more) is certainly up there as a favorite. It’s such a simple exercise to set-up, although I do think it requires considerable facilitator energy and focus to really gain its true value. Also, this is a favorite because, for me, it consistently delivers huge insights in terms of business requirements, organizational culture, workshop attendee dynamics etc. and gives me a first glimpse as to how to embed change in the organization.

What are you most looking forward to at the Summit?
I’m really looking forward to leading my session and learning lots from the attendees’ input. I am excited to hear stories from both the other speakers and the summit attendees on their use of play and games in business which I think will be of huge value. Of course, I am also looking forward to catching up with other the facilitators that I know or have worked with like Ulf, Jürgen, Jonathan and Luke and of course meeting lots of new people and making new friends and connections.


MEET THE SPEAKER: Adrie Dolman on How Real Companies Use Real Games

You’re speaking at the Innovation Games Summit about using games with one of your Clients in the session “Who’s Got the Power?’. What can attendees expect?
I’m going to tell a real-life story, which everyone will probably recognize from their own experience. It’s about the daily games people play in organizations. Why do we play games? Who are the players? What are the rules? What’s fair play? How can we win those games? (Sneak preview: You can’t win, and you don’t have to!)

Sounds interesting. So you’re talking about real life, political games?
Yes, It’s about real-life in-person games. Mostly, my clients weren’t aware that they were playing a game.

Is there anything special about how you used games or your game design? 
1. Understand the game your participants (co-workers/clients/etc.) are playing.
2. Don’t change all the rules; it’s their game.
3. Don’t participate yourself; just moderate.
4. Involve the voice of the customer.

What has been your overall experience with doing work with games?
It’s really about people, not the games

What techniques or games do you use most frequently and why?
I just moderate, and try not to have any opinions.

Do you have a favorite Innovation Game?
Speed Boat and Give them a Hot Tub are my favorites, because people are tempted in these games to show their subconscious value drivers. I prefer in-person (offline) games, because then I can moderate the best.

What are you most looking forward to at the Summit?
I hope to get inspired by new games and/or techniques to improve my game portfolio and proposition. And I want to find out what moves the participating decision makers to use Innovation Games.


Want to find out more? Check out the IG Summit website or register now.

MEET THE SPEAKERS: Jens Otto Lange & Thomas Stegman on Storytelling to Prototype Digital Experiences

You’re speaking at the Innovation Games Summit about Storythinking: Use Storytelling to Prototype Digital Experience. What can attendees expect from your session?
Thomas: Attendees can expect an in-depth interactive experience. They will use stories to prototype products or services and will learn to develop a persona and a story to create a better product.
Jens: I’ll add that we’ll apply Design Methods in a game setting. Attendees can expect fun and interaction!

Can you tell us a little bit more?
Jens: This session will be a simulation. We will involve attendees in creating the solution, to unleash passion and to trigger ideas and thoughts such as: What will my story be? How will this story enhance understanding and reveal hidden details?

Is there anything special about your how you’re using games or the design?
Jens: We will be combining some techniques of Design Thinking and storytelling.
Thomas: We’ll be providing you with the tools to make something great. We will try to allow you to experience something you might have read about before, but experiencing it will allow you to understand in new and maybe even eye-opening ways.

What has been your overall experience with doing work with games?
Jens: Games and groups together work well in a business context. However, one must be aware of the company’s culture and environment, and adapt to it. Some companies are more open and creative than others, so one has to choose techniques according to the company’s atmosphere. What’s so great about these games is how they bring people out of their usual, formal behavior and get people active and engaged, when put into the right environment or space.
Thomas: Games often trigger people to move out of their comfort zone to produce something that could not have been achieved in a regular business setting.

What techniques/games do you use most frequently and why?
Thomas: We use a lot of role play, as it allows for empathy in everyone. Starting the empathy engine in itself is a powerful tool: Understanding emotions of other people. Additionally, playing games brings out the competitiveness in people; everyone wants to win and you can get so much more passion as a result.
Jens: Speed Boat is a game we often use, to locate problem areas that need to be addressed. We also use the Empathy Map to create personas serving as a story’s characters.
Thomas: And storyboards of course!
Jens: Yes, storyboards are an amazing technique. Storyboards tell and illustrate user interactions. They are simple and therefore easy to apply in workshops. When things get too complicated, the people and environment as a whole are losing energy and engagement. It’s all about keeping the passion and spirit alive in the workspace.

What are you most looking forward to at the Summit? Any particular sessions?
Thomas: Everything. I’m looking forward to experience everything the Summit has to offer.
Jens: I’m looking forward to meeting practitioners from totally different aspects of the industry, from software and design to marketing, to see how we can further advance the world of Innovation Games. I’m not focused on any particular session; I’m open to learn something new.


Want to find out more? Check out the IG Summit website or register now.

MEET THE SPEAKER: Oana Juncu on Games and Product Destiny

Can you tell us what attendees can expect from your session?
Attendees will discover the power of Innovation Games in building a product’s story, frame and design, while actively involving all the stakeholders on a common ground of shared language and understanding.

Is there anything special about how you use Innovation Games? 
The way the games are played is based around a shared story of how we can achieve a goal from the current status. I usually use the Design Thinking format of diverge-analyze-converge in my sessions.

What has been your overall experience with doing work with games?
I’ve found that using games always has an “epiphany” effect on a major part of the attendees. The collaboration effect of people with different skills working together makes the game play magic.

Do you have a favorite Innovation Game or technique? Why is it your favorite?
All the games are powerful and there is no “favorite” per type of situation addressed. I think Speed Boat and Prune the Product Tree are effective because they are both very visual and simple. If there was a game I should mention, it would be Buy a Feature because of its power to make people collaborate, while understanding constraints.

What are you most looking forward to at the Summit? Any particular sessions?
It’s my first time at an Innovation Game Summit. I’m excited to be there and am looking forward to meet a lot of awesome people. I’m open about what I will learn there and am prepared to be surprised.


Want to find out more? Check out the IG Summit website or register now.

Meet the speaker: Jurgen de Smet on “Get yourself on the Cover”

Your session at the Innovation Games Summit is called “Get Yourself on the Cover”. What can attendees expect?
They can expect to “learn by doing”, as we will collaboratively create a vision that engages participants to actions. We’ll do this by combining a meeting carousel with a cover story to generate insights and reflect on the outcomes and endless possibilities towards execution.

The summit is bringing together people who are the front lines of using games to do work. What has been your overall experience with doing work with games?
As a team leader and product owner, I’ve been using serious games since 2006. While my career within Agfa Healthcare was booming, I kept using games to engage people around me and get them to work together and have fun. Later on, I also started using games as a way to teach and coach others. Today, I employ games in almost everything I do, for my company, as well as for my customers. Recently, I brought the Budget Games to Belgium (Aalbeke – Kortrijk), where we used games to get citizens engaged with the city budget plans.
Using games in assignments, problem-solving or investigations is, for me, the most appropriate way to get people to collaborate and achieve amazing results. Attendees and customers keep on being surprised about the impact of games and that’s nice. One of the reasons I became an Innovation Games Qualified Instructor is that I want to spread out the message to the world: Game on!

Do you have a favorite Innovation Game or technique? Why is it your favorite?
I have no favorite, as all of them work very well for the context they were developed for. But I like to put a twist on existing games, change or combine them in different ways, or even invent new games, depending on the question and context they’re used in.

What techniques or games do you use most frequently and why?
The difficult question actually. There are so many games I use often. I think it all depends on the question we want to get insights on, the people we are working with, and the constraints set for the event.
As I said, I like to change the games as much as possible for each assignment as this brings out the creative part in me, but I keep following the basic structures of Innovation Games® and Gamestorming. I like to invent new, effective and fun ways to do serious work and this keeps repetitive work (like Agile retrospectives) interesting, engaging and fun. The games I most use are Product Box for visioning purposes in all different kind of contexts, Prune the Product Tree to get more details out and generate deeper insights into visions, strategy, products and such, most likely together with a Buy a Feature for prioritization purposes. Then again 20/20 Vision is the one most used, I guess.

What are you most looking forward to at the Summit? Any particular sessions?
I’m looking forward to hearing stories from others on how they explored the power of games; preferably in domains, I have not been active in (yet). Next, to that, I’m also pleased to catch up with my friends such as Luke, Ant, Jonathan, Oana, Bart, and Ulf. Basically, I’m looking forward to the learning and fun I’ll have over there.


Curious about how Innovation Games can help you solve real-world business problem?

Join us every Friday at 10 AM Pacific and 2 PM Pacific for an hour long Innovation Game, facilitated by the Innovation Games Team!  The hour-long session is limited to eight players and will allow you to experience how businesses large and small are using Innovation Games Online everyday in their work.

Games played will include Visual Collaboration games such as Speed Boat, Prune the Product Tree, Empathy Map and others, and the ever popular Virtual Market Game Buy a Feature Online.

Sign up to play today.  And we’ll see you in the game!

New Innovation Games® trainings led by Jurgen de Smet coming up!!

Innovation Games® for Agile Teams and Innovation Games® for Customer Understanding

Join Jurgen for one of the Innovation Games® Certification Courses, “Innovation Games® for Customer Understanding”  or “Innovation Games® for Agile Teams” in Stockholm.  Completion of the courses designates you as a Certified Collaboration Architect, Orange or Yellow Belt. (For more details, see our website

Our certification courses are designed for market research professionals, product managers, product owners/developers, agile team members, marketing managers and others who want to use serious games to develop better customer understanding and drive the creation of more successful products and services.

These courses prepare participants to plan, play and facilitate online and in-person Innovation Games to solve real-world business problems upon completion.


Innovation Games for Agile Teams: 695€

Innovation Games for Customer Understanding: 1295€

Register & More Information:

Innovation Games for Agile Teams:

Innovation Games for Customer Understanding:


July 25, 2013Gent, BelgiumCertified Innovation Games® for Agile Teams
August 19-20, 2013Gent, BelgiumCertified Innovation Games® for Customer Understanding
September 13, 2013Gent, BelgiumCertified Innovation Games® for Agile Teams
October 28-29, 2013Gent, BelgiumCertified Innovation Games® for Customer Understanding

We Knew We Were Good … Research Proves We’re Great

Research studies back up years of anecdotal evidence. Games really are a valid method for doing work.

If you’ve used Innovation Games® or Knowsy®, then you know our game platforms, well, just work. Over the past decade our customers have used Innovation Games and Knowsy to answer questions, solve problems, unearth serious insight and foresight, align their organizations, and a whole host of related work. We have years of anecdotal and experiential data, and there’s no question that serious games are becoming more common solutions in the business world. However, we feel it’s still critical for us to assess the effectiveness of games for solving problems. After all, we want to know if our gaming platforms are producing as high-impact results as other techniques–or if they are even better.

Playing Knowsy to find team alignment.

Fortunately, the preliminary research that I’m sharing confirms our years of practical experience: Our games are good. Really good.

Practical Experience Drives Research Design Parameters

For a number of years, we’ve been collecting the feedback from our customers on the business impact of our games. They’ve told us that the games generate a number of hard and soft benefits:


  • They improve the novelty of new product concepts. Let’s define “novelty” as an idea that your team or company had not yet identified or considered. Customers report that using our games creates more novel ideas.
  • Increase the number of novel ideas. Getting one novel idea is great. Getting ten is better. We’ve produced games that have generated hundreds of novel ideas.
  • Strengthen Intellectual Property portfolios. You don’t have to bring a new product to market to get value from a novel idea: Many organizations use the results of games to stay two moves ahead of their competition.
  • Reduce time to take decisions. While pundits tell us that we need to “move faster” in business, they often fail to give us better tools. Our prioritization games are especially effective at helping businesses move faster: Cisco, VeriSign, HP and others have told us that Buy a Feature alone has saved them months of time.
  • Increase engagement. Novel ideas and efficient decisions are enhanced when employees are actively engaged in their work. As you’ll see later in this post, one of the reasons Innovation Games® produces the previous benefits is that the games increase engagement.
  • Enhance strategic relationships. Executives and Strategic Account Managers know that strong personal relationships are the foundation of strong business relationships. Playing games like Knowsy® creates these foundations.
  • Strengthen corporate brands. More broadly, companies that demonstrate they’re understanding their customers and using this understanding to drive offerings create the strongest, most effective brands.


Playing the Innovation Game Start Your Day in Chicago, IL.

While this is an impressive list of benefits, it is by no means exhaustive. Quite often the highest impact result of a game is its ability to directly solve a specific problem. For example, reducing the time it takes to prioritize product features often pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars of direct savings from avoiding unnecessary or unwanted products or product features.

My experience in business suggests that for senior executives these benefits are typically sufficiently compelling to start leveraging the games. My academic training, though, motivates a desire for deeper explorations: To what degree and in what situations are the games better than traditional techniques? To what degree and in what situations are online games more effective than in-preson games? What kinds of players and facilitators produce the best results? And while we have more questions than answers, the answers we’ve got are pretty darn exciting.

Measuring Novelty and Feasibility

The benefits listed above provide a good starting point for research design. The first study I wish to share is from Hadi Ghanbari from the University of Oulu in Finland, who compared the online versions of Prune the Product Trees effectiveness at generating novel, or previously unknown requirements, again traditional requirements gathering techniques and Buy a Feature‘s effectiveness at identifying the most important, most feasible requirements.

Prune the Product Tree Online

Hadi found that Prune the Product Tree was significantly more effective at identifying previously unknown requirements. Perhaps more importantly, the identified requirements were more clearly understood by the stakeholders precisely because the collaborative structure of the game enabled participants to share information clearly.

Hadi also found that Buy a Feature was also significantly more effective at prioritizing requirements, and that the requirements selected through the game were judged to be more feasible, because the game structure generates prioritization data, conditions of acceptance that shape the requirements, and deeper understanding of the motivations for the requirements which creates greater clarity on the problems these features are designed to solve.

In reviewing these results, I found that Hadi was testing a relatively small sample size compared to what we see in corporate implementations of our platforms. This suggests that the advantages that Hadi identified to our online games may be magnified as the number of features and players increase.

Unfortunately the paper is not yet cleared for publication, we will post it as soon as it is available!

I’d like to see this research extended to see if we could identify more fine-grained aspects or dimensions of “novelty” and which of the visual collaboration games are optimal for what aspect of novelty we’re trying to identify.

Measuring Engagement

Buy a Feature game results.

Our second research study comes from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which worked with Daimler Financial Services to explore the effectiveness of using Buy a Feature in prioritizing the ideas that employees submitted to an internal “idea catcher”. Historically, these systems excel at capturing “spur of the moment” thinking, but are typically weak on prioritization. After all, if all you can do is give a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” on an idea, you’re not going to be engaged in trying to select the best idea possible.

While the full results of the study have not yet been released, Daimler has approved sharing some key insights. These include the following:

  • The Daimler team found that preparing the ideas for inclusion in the game produced a much better result, because items in a Buy a Feature game must fairly state benefits. By “fairly”, I mean that a project with outlandish claims of benefits (for example, 1000% ROI) won’t be purchased, and projects with too few benefits won’t be purchased. Playing Buy a Feature results in more fairly defined projects.
  • Employees reported significantly higher levels of engagement, when prioritizing ideas using Buy a Feature.
  • For the reasons previously mentioned, the Daimler team also found that the selected projects were more feasible, and that the chat logs provided significant insight that made the proposals even better.

Like Hadi’s study, the Daimler research was based on a relatively small sample size. Increasing either the number of employees engaged in the study or the number of projects would likely show even greater impact.

Making Your Move

For those of you who have already experienced the incredible power that comes from playing our games, I’m sure the results from these studies are no surprise, and will only confirm what you know to be true. However, you may find that the results may sway others who are still skeptical about the role serious games can play.

If you’re new to our games, or perhaps still on the fence about whether games are really a valid method for solving business problems, I hope these studies provide you with a reason to make the move toward using serious games for solving business problems.

Finally, ff you’re a researcher who’d like to join us in assessing the effectiveness of our games, drop me a line. We’re eager to support you in your efforts to explore the effectiveness of our games.