Innovation Games – Have Fun While Getting Serious Work Done

I recently attended the training program to become a Certified Facilitator for Innovation Games®. Innovation Games was born out of Luke Hohmann’s company Enthiosys, and its vision is “A world where serious games and collaborative play are naturally, effortlessly, and instinctively used in pursuit of everyday goals”. If anyone can achieve such a noble and big-picture vision, that is Luke.

This course brought together several facilitation and workshop techniques that I have 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 agile development clients with planning releases and issue and risk management.

Luke teaches the full process on how to be successful with Innovation Games. It doesn’t stop at just how to select and facilitate the games, but also includes how to plan and handle logistics for the games. It is quite surprising how much planning can be involved for a large scale event, such as 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, Buy A Feature and Product Box. These have a wide range of applications in software product development 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 agile teams or are engaging customers. For instance, if you need to plan the scope of a product release, or discover what customers want in your product and why.

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

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