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.


Innovation Games®, Grameen America and PDMA 2010

I’m writing this post on the plane flight back to CA from the 2010 PDMA conference. If you’ve been following the PDMA website or #innovgames on twitter, you know that we partnered with a number of companies to produce a powerful set of Innovation Games® and other serious games to attack poverty and to help Grameen America. We’re in the process of compiling our results, which will be published at the PDMA web site. I’m writing this post to capture a few thoughts on the experience.

First, a recap. The games and questions that we tackled at the conference were as follows:

  • At the Games for Democracy booth, we used a variation of Give Them a Hot Tub to explore ways in which Grameen America can improve fundraising.
  • Accept Software used a specially designed performance game to help Grameen America demonstrate success through soft and hard metrics.
  • Decision Analyst used Remember the Future to explore the critical sequence of activities that entrepreneurs must engage to continue their success in their second year of business.
  • Innovaro used  Spider Web to identify and explore the relationships that social entrepreneurs must create to create sustainable success.
  • Ideas To Go used  Buy a Feature to identify projects that PDMA members feel will have the greatest impact in attacking poverty from around the world.

Before we played these games, we used Knowsy to briefly orient attendees on the give key attributes of Grameen America Entrepreneurs.


Here are some of my impressions of the experience.

  • People really liked Knowsy, our new game for the iPad. Dan Pink liked it so much that he promised a review! Perhaps more importantly, people who know quite a lot about traditional choice modeling research could see the advantages of Knowsy – choice modeling as a game.
  • Speed games – games designed to take less than 10 minutes to play – generate powerful insights when the players are experienced in the domain. That said, I still stand by my rule of thumb that the online games take about an hour to play and that in-person games take about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Game cocktails work. Having multiple games enabled conference attendees to explore the issues of poverty from different perspectives. Keep this in mind when you’re designing your games. But, don’t overdue it, either. More than 3-4 games in a single day isn’t fun. It’s work.
  • Celebrate small collaborations. The nature of the conference required us to design games that relied less on real-time collaboration and more on shared state social collaboration, where one person would generate a partial result and another person would extend it. This works well in a conference environment.
  • We needed online games. We originally designed some online games but didn’t use them because the facility didn’t provide reliable wireless internet. That’s really a shame, as online games would have significantly enhanced the experience. Fortunately, a lot of attendees expressed an interest in continuing the conversation and we may engage an online game.

Overall, this was an incredibly powerful experience. I’m very proud of everyone who participated and thankful for the enthusiastic endorsement of the games by the PDMA. We’re now actively exploring other ways in which the games can help the PDMA accomplish its goals.

I’d like to especially thank Ryan Peel from Hastings Mutual and Cory Foy from NetObjectives. Ryan and Cory are highly skilled, trained facilitators who generously donated their time to this event. It was a real pleasure to have them at the conference.

Want to play online games? Through Oct 31, 2010, get a 50% discount for any account level for one year by using the discount code pdma2010.