20/20 Vision–with Wooden Blocks!

20/20 Vision–with Wooden Blocks!

The best part of putting together this newsletter is seeing howInnovation Games® are being adapted and put to work around the globe, in every industry imaginable. This month we feature a post froom Portland-based applied anthropologist Amy L. Santee. Amy adapted 20/20 Vision for use with wooden blocks to get feedback on her clients ideal customer experience. 

Not just another boring focus group.

Focus group participants, Amy writes, “really appreciate it when they don’t have to sit […] for two hours in one, long drawn-out conversation.” Instead, Amy includes at least one or two hands-on activities to get people talking, thinking and using their imaginations.

Tactile and unexpected.

“One example of a collaborative, hands-on activity I have used in the past,” Amy continues, “involves something participants don’t usually expect — playing with blocks! This is actually an adaptation of an exercise from a book called Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play by Luke Hohmann.”

Called 20/20 Vision, this game is a way to gain insight into customer priorities, Amy writes as she describes how she used the technique with a current client.

20 20 Vision Blocks
20/20 Vision Blocks

Why Blocks? 

“First, I thought it would be better to involve the participants by having them do the actual “arranging” of the list of attributes, rather than having me doing it for them with index cards.

[Second], why use paper index cards? Why not use something more interesting and tactile that adds to the hands-on, collaborative feel? I couldn’t think of anything that would work better for this very purpose than big sturdy blocks of some sort.”

How did it work?   

Amy writes that the 20/20 Vision games as blocks, “was a useful catalyst for revealing how people define the ideal customer experience. All of the talking, sharing of opinions, debating, and collaborating provided insights unattainable by more traditional market research approaches.”

To read all the project details, including how Amy structured the exercise, and had the blocks made at a local hardware store, check out her post, “Defining the ideal customer experience: an example of a collaborative, hands-on focus group activity for market research“.  For more on 20/20 Vision, check out innovationgames.com.

Innovation Games Training Comes to Raleigh

Enthiosys President and Innovation Games Qualified Instructor Jason Tanner is teaching a two-day Innovation Games for Customer Understanding class in Raleigh, NC on Nov. 1-2, 2012. Held at Rally Software’s Raleigh-office, the class will cover both online and in-person games, focusing on real-world application and practice. The interactive workshop will prepare participants to plan, play, facilitate and post-process game results, along with providing students with practice in choosing the right game for the right result.

The Early Bird deadline has passed, but we’re extending it to the Innovation Games community. Just register here, with the code TIG12.


Class details

Date: 1-2 November 2012
Timing: 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Venue: Rally Software, Suite 105
Register: http://igjtnov.eventbrite.com/?discount=TIG12

A Grab Bag of Innovation

I like to pride myself on writing thoughtful, useful, and at times, provocative posts. But sometimes there are just so many good things happening that I’m not entirely certain where to focus my energies. So, this month I’m going to write a “grab bag” post — a veritable cornucopia of important items to share!



TIGC Customer Advisory Board Meeting: Key Insights From Customers

Ever wonder if we “practice what we preach”? Yeah, we do! On Sep 20, 2012, we invited our closest and largest customers to attend a Customer Advisory Board and Customer Funding meeting to help the company accomplish the following goals:

  • Identify and prioritize the key value propositions of our games and offerings;
  • Understand the impediments that are preventing our customers from realizing these benefits;
  • Develop some draft “sticky slogans” that can capture these benefits;
  • Explore which existing and new services are of most interest to CAB members;
  • Prioritize potential enhancements to Innovation Games® Online.

I was thrilled with the turnout: Mark Interrante (Rackspace), Jean-Francois Vanreusel (Adobe), Julia French (Avaya), Jeff Honious (Reed Elsevier), Paul Germeraad (Intellectual Assets), Steve Dodds (Every Voice Engaged), Monique Anderson (vsp), Julie Hu (vsp), Laura Merling (Alcatel-Lucent), Jon Snyder (Cisco), Tom Wesselman (Cisco), Kip Harkness (City of San Jose), Kara Jariwala (HP), Peter Green (Adobe), and Jon Kerry-Tyerman (LexisNexis). Paul Mantey (NetApp) also contributed key content to the meeting (but was unable to attend in person).

As you can guess, we played games all day (specially designed versions of 2020 Vision, Speed Boat, and Buy a Feature). Our games were expertly facilitated by Deb Colden and our graphic facilitator was Julia Feng.

Through these games we learned a great deal. Here is a brief summary of our insights — and what we’re planning on doing:

  1. Our games are used in more ways than we knew! Our customers shared stories of how they’re using the games to improve sales, identify customer priorities, engage employees and perform a whole range of activities. What was especially exciting was watching customers share experiences and then make connections so that they can continue to use games throughout their business.
  2. Provide more “full agency” services. We learned that while our customers love our games, and are using them, they also want us to offer more services that will make it even easier for them to play our games. These services range from prepackaged “kits” of game supplies to other services that we’ll be designing and rolling out to customers.
  3. Make Innovation Games® Online “slick”. While our current online games produce amazing results, we’re the first to admit that our current user experience is not “slick”. It needs to be improved. We are listening to our customers and have initiated a major program to redesign our entire user interface and user experience, from scratch. We’re really excited about this, and can’t wait to build our next generation offering!
  4. Continue to offer both in-person and online games. Our customers want us to continue to offer both in-person and online games. So, we will!
  5. Develop a “Certified” Facilitator program. While our customers praised our trained facilitator program, they were clear that they wanted more. Specifically, they want a Certified Facilitator program that they can use to identify the best facilitators for their needs. We are committed to creating a terrific program and are working on a program we will launch in at the Innovation Games® Summit.

Arguably the most emotional aspect of the day was the final items purchased in our Buy a Feature game. As many of you know, we are deeply committed to using our games to engage citizens through our relationship with Every Voice Engaged, a nonprofit we helped to start. During our game, we offered several new features for Innovation Games® online to our customers — including the direct support of Budget Games in our platform. After much intense debate, our customers elected to fund the development of this critically needed software. Of course, those of you who have played Innovation Games know that I’m not giving this debate justice (it really was very intense!). That said, it helped us all realize that our customers care about things that are much, much, much bigger than just prioritizing features!

Three Years of San Jose Budget Games: Jan 26, 2013

On Oct 2, 2012, Kip Harkness and Ernest Guzman from the City of San Jose, Steve Dodds from Every Voice Engaged, and I shared lunch to start the high-level planning of the third year of Budget Games for the City of San Jose. I’m thrilled with the game design that we developed (Steve will be sharing more on this, over time, at Every Voice Engaged).

The reason I am highlighting this event in our newsletter is that we’re going to try and make this the BIGGEST game we’ve produced yet! We’re hoping to engage hundreds of citizens — which means we going to need a LOT of facilitators. To help create the facilitators we need, we hope that you’ll come to the Innovation Games&ref; Summit on Jan 24/25, 2013 and then stay for the Budget Games. If you can help, please contact Every Voice Engaged.

Alexander Osterwalder to keynote the Innovation Games® Summit: Jan 24/25, 2013

I’m incredibly thrilled that Alexander Osterwalder, famed co-author of Business Model Generation, has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the Innovation Games&ref; Summit! Come and join us celebrate 10 years of serious gaming! Details here!

PDMA playing Innovation Games at an annual conference — Oct. 20-24, 2012

We’re thrilled that attendees at PDMA’s Product Innovation Management Annual Global Conference in Orlando, FL, will be playing Innovation Games on Oct. 23 & 24 to improve the PDMA and the conference experience. We’re no strangers to using Innovation Games to get better attendee feedback and engagement, along with providing a better attendee experience. There are no boring booths with Innovation Games in play.

The games will be played in the PDMA booth during the Innovation Pavilion, and include Conference Benefits Tree (a specially adapted version of Prune the Product Tree) and Putting Results Into Action! (a variation of Remember the Future.) The attendees will also receive a post-conference report compiled from games results; the report will be designed to help attendees apply their conference-related learning and experience to their work.

As Seen in Businessweek: Games Politicians Play

Collaborative play for problem solving has hit the mainstream! Businessweek recently profiled our work with the city of San José, CA, highlighting how we and the Every Voice Engaged Foundation have been  working with local governments and nonprofits to apply Innovation Games to the difficult problems many communities are facing.

The inspiration for the 2011 and 2012 Budget Games for San José, CA, emerged from our work with organizations like Cisco, Qualcomm, Yahoo!, Adobe and others. Tackling complex problems in prioritization, strategy, new product development is all stock and trade for us, and many of those techniques are applicable for communities as well.

Making Sense of the Games Politicians Play

San José citizens play Budget Games, an adaption of Buy a Feature created by Luke Hohman.

“One Saturday morning last year, about 90 leaders of neighborhood associations in San José gathered in small groups to play a game. Each person had a roll of fake money, from which he or she could pay for city services—like beat cops or libraries. Each group lacked enough money to cover the city’s budget. “We intentionally, just like reality, gave them far less money to buy the things they wanted,” says Kip Harkness, San José’s senior project manager.

By morning’s end, all the groups had agreed to run the city’s fire trucks with one less fireman each to save money. City council members adopted that change in San José’s actual budget last summer. At the same meetup this year, residents agreed to eliminate paid overtime for city managers, and six of 10 groups were willing to raise their sales tax by 0.25 percentage points, which the city is now considering. “I really haven’t had anyone tell me this is a waste of time,” says Harkness. “That’s pretty incredible when you’re talking about budgets.”

Click here to read the entire article.


Blue Cross Blue Shield Puts Innovation Games® to Work

Leon Sabarsky’s Scrum team has been using Innovation Games for a while in their work on Claim Automation.The Raleigh, NC-based team at Blue Cross Blue Shield has used Speed Boat for project retrospectives and Prune the Product Tree for backlog prioritization—both common ways agile teams put Innovation Games to work. But recently he introduced the games to the market research team at Blue Cross Blue Shield—with interesting results.

How did you discover Innovation Games?

Word of mouth. I heard about the games from colleagues and through sessions at conferences I attended. I started trying out the games at work, and eventually took the two-day class taught by [IGQI and Enthiosys President] Jason Tanner.


Can you tell me more about how are you using Innovation Games at Blue Cross Blue Shield?

I’m the manager of a Scrum team in Durham, NC. We work on claims automation, and I also serve on the Innovation Committee here at Blue Cross Blue Shield.

We use Innovation Games in our Scrum practice—Speed Boat for retrospectives and Prune the Product Tree for backlog prioritization—but have started using them in other ways as well, such as in our market research work on our insurance products.


How did the market research work come about?

It was Jason Tanner who first suggested we use Innovation Games for market research, instead of just internally with our Scrum team. I bought the book [Innovation Games for Understanding] and invited the market research lead to lunch. After some discussion, we decided to try it.


What was the project?

The target market was college-age consumers, and we wanted to determine what type of insurance products and benefits they would be interested in purchasing—and how much they would be willing to pay. In essence, we wanted them to produce a list of benefits and prioritize which ones were most valuable to them.


How did you structure the event to get those results?
One of the Product Boxes created by the summer interns at Blue Cross Blue Shield.

We recruited 20 of our summer interns as the subjects for the market research project and decided to do two phases in July 2012.

First, to get the benefits, we had the interns build Product Boxes outlining the insurance products they would most be interested in. This was face-to-face, of course. And each intern presented his or her box and then the group voted on the best one.

Second, we used Buy a Feature Online to prioritize the benefits that the interns had developed through their Product Boxes. The interns logged into the game from their different offices on the Blue Cross Blue Shield campus. We had priced the benefits and gave the interns 40% of the total budget to spend on the insurance products they most wanted. We were surprised and pleased with the quality of chat and negotiations during the game. At the end, we got a prioritized list of insurance products that college-age consumers would want to buy.


What did you learn from the games?

Price was an issue for many of them. They are buying insurance for the first time and wanted it to be reasonably priced.

Any surprises?

Yes, we had some unexpected results. The market research team had done a series of focus groups on the same topic and they had got different results than our project using Innovation Games.

Also, during the Buy a Feature game I facilitated, the game didn’t stop when the interns had spent all their money. The chat and negotiation continued, and the interns decided to un-purchase an insurance product to buy one concerning healthy benefits. It took 5 minutes of chatting to decide after I had thought the game was done.

I was impressed with the depth of thinking during the game. The interns were really serious; we thought half would not be engaged since the game was online and they weren’t together, but they surprised us. The game results went beyond what we expected.


Are you planning on using Innovation Games again?

We have a “FedEx Day” coming up in October. We’re inspired by Daniel Pink’s Drive, and want to create and deliver something overnight. Basically, you drop whatever you’re doing for a day and present a product at the end.

Our past “FedEx” Days haven’t been structured, but we’re hoping to use Innovation Games this time to help us get an outcome.We’re still planning, but think we’ll use 3-4 games, maybe Buy a Feature, >Product Box, Speed Boat, and Spider Web.

I truly believe there’s a different dynamic when you get people moving. You get much more robust idea generation with activities like Innovation Games, than sitting down around a conference table. There’s just something about Innovation Games, the moving around and collaborating, that you don’t get from focus groups.

Announcing The Innovation Games Summit!

Collaborate, Create, Succeed. Celebrating 10 years of doing real work with games.

For 10 years, we’ve been changing the way the world does work, helping organizations large and small put their ideas into action through Innovation Games. People work better together. And the results are even better when that work is a game.

Join us on January 24-25, 2013 for an exploration of how Innovation Games® are changing the world.

  1. We’ll explore the diverse uses of Innovation Games and serious games.
  2. Celebrate practice and real-world applications of Innovation Games.
  3. Promote skill through the launch of the Innovation Games® Certification program.
  4. Have fun, learning with like-minded people.
  5. Support the 2013 Budget Games on Jan. 26, 2013 through facilitation. (We’re recruiting facilitators for the 2000+ person game event.)
  6. Celebrate 10 years of Innovation Gaming!

We’re pleased to announce that Author, Speaker, and Advisor on Business Model Innovation Alexander Osterwalder has agreed to present a keynote address at the Innovation Games Summit.

Innovation Games Founder and CEO Luke Hohmann will also keynote. Stay tuned for more details and additional keynote speakers to be announced in the coming weeks.


Call for Papers Open!

We invite you to submit a session proposal for the Innovation Games Summit and help us reveal how Innovation Games are changing the world of work. Proposed tracks are:


  • Sales: Games for Fun and Profit
  • Strategy: Unleash Internal Teams
  • Market Insight: Understand Your Customer
  • Agile: Breakthrough Products and Services
  • Government: Games for Good
  • Grab Bag
Join us!

Check out the Summit website for registration, speaker updates and more.

Serious Games for Market Research Workshop in Stockholm

Innovation Games® Qualified Instructor and founder of Aneega AB Ulf Hannelius will be presenting on serious games for market research and hosting an hourlong Buy a Feature workshop for 30 participants at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship on Oct. 12, 2012. The interactive session is part of SSES’s Toolbox Friday series, focusing on how Innovation Games can help participants conduct market research that will challenge customers in insightful and fun ways to define Innovation.

SSES is a joint effort between the Karolinska Institutet, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm university and The University College of Arts, Crafts and Design.

Ulf Hannelieus, the founder and CEO of Aneega AB, has an extensive background in academic research and coordination within the fields of molecular biology, genetics and cancer. After getting the opportunity to spend a month at Innovation Games® in Silicon Valley and completing his MBA, he decided to pursue a career within innovation and change management, helping organizations realize the full potential of complex market research, organizational culture, change and product development initiatives. Ulf has a PhD in molecular biology from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and an Executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics. He is an Innovation Games® Trained Facilitator, Qualified Instructor and a certified Scrum Master.

IGQI Jonathan Clark is speaking at the Society for Scholarly Publishing on September 30th.

Jonathan Clark will be facilitating the session on the evening of September 30th, entitled “Shifting Sands: Thriving through Sustainable Innovation”.  It will be held at the Waterview Conference Center in Arlington, VA. Get more details about the speakers and register here.


The latest Knowsy® game from The Innovation Games® Company and ScrumTide help teams and individuals discover, challenge and improve their Scrum practice.

Mountain View, CA – August 13, 2012. The Innovation Games® Company, the leading provider of serious games for business, today announced that it has released ScrumKnowsy®, the latest game built on the Knowsy® platform.


ScrumKnowsy, produced in partnership with ScrumTide, is a browser-based serious game that allows an individual and organization improve their Scrum practice. Players can “challenge” Scrum Oracles like Scrum Creator Jeff Sutherland, or leading Scrum trainers like Jim “Cope” Coplien or Jens Ostergaard to discover how their Scrum practice compares, or play multiplayer games to track alignment on Scrum practices, roles, and responsibilities.

Jim Coplien Introduces Scrum Knowsy from Conteneo Inc. on Vimeo.


“The key to successful, high performing teams rests in alignment. Not just alignment of goals, but the alignment of roles, responsibilities, methods of work and communication,” Said CEO and Founder Luke Hohmann. “While there’s been a lot of discussion about of the importance of alignment and team integrity, a way to effectively test (and improve) team alignment hasn’t emerged. Until now.”

“ScrumKnowsy gives teams a fun and effective way to explore how well they are aligned with their mission.” Hohmann continued. “By formally testing, sharing and discussing the results of Scrum Knowsy® games, teams will explicitly reduce the degree of ambiguity and equivocality of the shared outcomes they seek to create.”


Key features of ScrumKnowsy are:

  • It’s a game, not another boring meeting. Discovering where teams are and aren’t aligned through collaborative play means improved engagement and more accurate feedback.
  • Access to experts. Through Challenge and Discover play individuals and teams can compare their Scrum practice with leaders in the Scrum community.
  • Individual or Multiplayer games. ScrumKnowsy lets you play on your own or with teams, tackling such topics as retrospectives, sprint planning, backlogs, impediment lists and more.
  • Real-time database. Playing ScrumKnowsy allows individuals and teams to track their game results over time, providing real-time information on improvement and performance.
  • Individual or Enterprise Licenses. Players always play for free, but Individuals or organizations can upgrade for additional features and capabilities like custom topics, game analytics and more. The individual can sign up for Starter accounts (individual play only) for free, or pay $19 for an annual Standard license, which includes the full range of capabilities, including multiplayer games.


“ScrumKnowsy is designed for ongoing self-assessment,” said ScrumTide partner Jim “Cope” Coplien, “because that’s what Agile is about. The goal is to have fun and create value, and ScrumKnowsy helps agile teams meet that goal.”

Forrester Analyst Tom Grant recently profiled ScrumKnowsy and it’s role in facilitating Agility at Scale, writing, “Clearly, the approach that ScrumKnowsy takes is a lot less obnoxious than the Agile standards star chamber and a lot easier to use for regular reinforcement than training classes.”

The Innovation Games® Company and ScrumTide will showcase ScrumKnowsy at Agile 2012, the leading conference for agile adherents, hosting a launch party on Wednesday, August 15. The first 500 standard account holders will get limited edition ScrumKnowsy t-shirts. For more details about the launch party, go to https://www.innovationgames.com/2012/08/scrumknowsy-launch-party/.

The Innovation Games® Company’s portfolio includes the Knowsy® platform of products, along with Innovation Games® Online, which launched in July 2009, and was highlighted in a recent Forrester report as a leader in the serious games industry for helping businesses “do work.” Innovation Games® Online includes both real-time visual collaboration and virtual market games, such as Buy a Feature Online, Prune the Product Tree Online, Speed Boat Online and Design Your Own Visual Game. The online games are based on Luke Hohmann’s book Innovation Games®: Creating Breakthrough Products through Collaborative Play. (For more information about ScrumKnowsy®, go to http://playknowsy.com/p/scrumtide.)


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 our Knowsy® games, visit http://innovationgames.com.

ScrumKnowsy® Launch Party!

We just launched the newest member of the Knowsy® family, Scrum Knowsy®, and are throwing a party at Agile 2012 to celebrate.

So what is ScrumKnowsy®?
ScrumKnowsy® is a fun and interactive online game that helps individuals and organizations improve their Scrum performance by aligning teams on Scrum roles, responsibilities and practices.

We partnered with the good folks of ScrumTide to bring you the game; it includes Challenge Play, where you can test out your beliefs about Scrum Practice against such leaders in the Scrum community as:

  • Jeff Sutherland
  • Jens Ostergaard
  • Jim “Cope” Coplien

For more about ScrumKnowsy®–why play, how to play and more–check out this introduction from Jim Coplien.


Come to our Party!
Join our CEO Luke Hohmann for food, drink, and fun! Not to mention those limited edition ScrumKnowsy® t-shirts! (Thanks to VersionOne for hosting!)

What: Scrum Knowsy® & Innovation Games® Games Fest!
When: Wednesday, 15 August 2012; 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Where: Texas 6, Gaylord Texan, 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051


Now about those t-shirts …
The first 500 folks to sign up for a Standard subscription get a limited edition Scrum Knowsy® T-Shirt.

Standard subscriptions ($19) give you the ability to set up multiplayer games (that your team members can join for free!), track your progress and improvement, play “against” the Scrum Oracles to compare your Scrum Practice and more. Starter subscriptions are free and are for individual play.

Hope to see you at the party!