Innovation Games – Have Fun While Getting Serious Work Done

Planning Time Horizon

I recently attended the training program to become a Certified Facilitator for Innovation Games(R).  Innovation Games is Luke Hohmann’s company that was born out of his other company Enthiosys, of which he is the Founder and CEO.  Its vision is “A world where serious games and collaborative play are naturally, effortlessly, and instinctively used in pursuit of everyday goals”.  A nobile and big picture vision that if anyone can achieve is Luke.

This course brought together several facilitation / workshop techniques that I had been using since my days at Sapient in the late 90’s.   The set of twelve games in the course are a powerful addition to any agilist’s tool belt.  Since the course I’ve already used 3 of the games, with great success, to help clients with planning releases and issue and risk management.

Luke teaches the full process on how to be successful with Innovation Games, so it doesn’t stop at just how to select and facilitate the games but also how plan and handle the logistics for the games.  It is quite surprising how much planning can be involved for a large scale event like for instance the Innovation Games that were held at Agile 2010.  This was one of the key take-aways from the class;  if you are choosing to utilize the games then don’t underestimate the planning time involved and if you’re not good at this, get some help from individuals or companies that are good at it.

My favorite games thus far are called Remember The Future, Prune The Product Tree, Speed Boat, and Buy A Feature and Product Box.  These have a wide range of application in product planning and agile project planning.

In addition to utilizing these games ‘on-site’ in a face to face setting, Innovation Games also offers a few of the games to play on-line.  The on-line games are an extremely cost effective way of getting planning and market research done when you have distributed teams or are engaging customers.  For instance, if you need to plan the scope of a product release or discovering what customers want in your product and why.

I you want an effective and fun way to conduct market research and agile project planning, check out Innovation Games.   I know I am looking forward to running more large scale Innovation Games for clients in the future.

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About Mike DePaoli

Mike DePaoli has been contributing to the IT community for over two decades and practicing agile and lean approaches to software development since 1996 in roles from programmer to CTO. His evolved approach to crafting successful lean-agile software development organizations was forged by the meaningful challenges he undertook at prior employers and as an Agile Coach at companies such as eBay, Adobe Systems, AOL, NetApp, Disney, Boeing, EMC, and Trizetto. Mike’s area of expertise is helping organizations craft strategic change initiatives that educate on and establish agile and lean values, principles and practices at every tier of the organization. Mike applies systematic thinking with a multi-discipline approach to his work. Mike is a Certified SAFe Agilist, Certified Scrum Professional, Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO). He is a highly-regarded speaker in the Agile community having spoken at Agile conferences in North America, South America and Europe. He is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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