Agile Innovation Games – Where New Ideas Emerge! - Discuss Agile

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Agile Innovation Games – Where New Ideas Emerge!

Humans love Games and Agile is all about people!. Any problem situation or analysis can be easily worked out in fun way when it is interactive and competitive. That’s what Agile Innovation Games is all about. So let’s play!

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Generating new ideas is always a challenging process! And even more difficult thing is to make people speak up and share their thoughts, which can result into new ideas. True Agile environment needs culture where each team member feels free and empowered to share his views, hence it is important for Project/Program managers and Scrum Masters to identify various ways through which they can get team members and customers communicate with each other and collaborate on the areas of interest for the team. This is precisely where Agile Innovation Games can help.

It was introduced by Luke Hohmann, CEO and Founder of The Innovation Games Company. Agilegames are fun way to get the feedback from participants. It involves visual and experiential way of sharing thoughts and can be used for collecting feedback on a current / new products or services. Here, actual customers or end users would collaborate with the project team members to share their expectations about the project with the help of games.

Advantages of Innovation Games:

The innovation games are in line with the values of Agile manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Identify what provides most value to the customer

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These set of games help:

  • To identify customer’s inputs on priorities of various features and to understand different views / perspectives of peers.
  • Participants to organize their thoughts / ideas / suggestions together.
  • To make people speak / share their thoughts. In some cultures, team members might not be comfortable sharing their thoughts (especially apprehensions) freely in front of their seniors or with the customers. But these set of games, played in a fun environment would really help people to open up and share their true feelings, which would be extremely beneficial for the management team.
  • To identify an organizational strategy in collaborative manner, during Strategic / Operational planning sessions.

Executives in an organization can use these games to generate or prioritize new ideas. Marketing teams can use them to conduct market research to understand what the customer wants? Product Management team can use the games to identify enhancements to existing solutions & to get stakeholder prioritization. HR/Admin team of any organization can use them to get feedback from employees on work environment / policies etc.

Game 1: Strategic Planning

Objective of the game: Brainstorm and identify what would make any organization or team fly high up in the sky (i.e. to be successful) and what could be the obstructions.
It would help in identifying the unique drivers that would help the organization grow as well as identify the issues that would prevent the growth. The participants would brainstorm on the strategy for growth of the organization we well as identify any potential risks and mitigation plans.

Preparations:

  • A whiteboard or large sheet of paper
  • A picture of a balloon & ropes
  • Index card or sticky notes for the participants
  • Facilitator / Time keeper in each group

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How it works:

  • The balloon wants to fly high up in the sky (denotes growth of the organization / team).
  • The air pushes the balloon upwards (positive push).
  • The ropes tied up with the balloon prevent it from flying (negative push).
  • Participants should initially write their inputs on sticky notes independently, post it on the board and then brainstorm about their views.

Where to use this game:

  • To identify strategic objectives of the organization.
  • To define the operational plan / new initiatives.
  • To create a risk management plan.
  • Establish the team common goals / guidelines.
  • Establish areas to focus on (Marketing, HR etc.)

Game 2: Product Roadmap

Objective of the game: To identify the core features and extended (nice to have) features of any product and to develop product roadmap. It helps in identifying the importance of various services. What would provide most value to the members/customers/users? It helps in identifying the timelines for building the identified features.

Preparations:

  • A whiteboard or large sheet of paper
  • A picture of a Tree
  • Index card or sticky notes for the participants

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How it works:

  • Write different current or proposed product requirements as leaves on sticky notes.
  • Participants would add the core features at the center of the tree and extended features at the outer edge of the tree.
  • Participants can add or remove the leaves on the tree to balance the set of features.
  • Participants should also identify the roots of the tree i.e. support framework (or infrastructure required for the product).
  • If some of the features do not add any value then remove such leaves from the tree.
  • Identify the priorities of implementing various features through its placement on the tree.

Where to use this game:

  • To identify the required features/requirements in the product.
  • To identify the unused features and prune them.
  • To identify the customer care infrastructure (as roots).
  • Identify the features that provide value and develop the release plan accordingly.

Guidelines for participants:

  • Refrain from giving judgment or trying to fix the problem during the game.
  • Focus on understanding the feedback shared by the participants.
  • Same issues identified by multiple participants indicate the gravity of the situation; hence the team needs to focus more on those issues.
  • Review the final results and organize them by priority.

Role of Game Facilitator:

  • Facilitator should explain the objective of the game and its steps clearly.
  • He / She should work across groups (in-person or online), answer any queries & ensure that participants are focused on the objective.
  • He should facilitate healthy discussions amongst the participants.
  • He should initiate the review process and support in developing objective outcome during the session.
  • The Agile Innovation Games can be used effectively to facilitate collaboration amongst the employees, customer and users of the product/services. It would help in understanding the expectations and concerns of employees and customer. Project Managers should take advantage of these games and facilitate the games to build team bonding and collaborative environment.

References:Innovation Games®: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play – Luke Hohmann

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