Gamestorming. Games that the business plays

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    We have received electronic rights to the book “Gamestorming. Games that the business plays .


    Creating an enabling environment for creative thinking and innovation is not so simple. How to implement this in your company? The answer to this question may surprise you: by searching for new ideas in the game. This book contains a description of more than 80 games that help break down barriers, improve communication skills and generate new ideas, conjectures and strategies. The authors borrowed ideas and tools from world-class professionals whose teams perform real miracles. The result is this unique collection of games that inspire action and creativity and structure the workspace.

    Game design

    First you need to learn how to create your own games that are suitable for specific purposes.

    Let's start with a general idea. Each game has a certain form. It can be compared with a pencil stub sharpened on both sides. The aim of the game is to transition from the initial state A to the final state B. It is between the points A and B that the pencil stub is located - and this is the form you should put your design in.

    • Final state. Designing games should start from the end: you must know the purpose of the game. What tasks should be solved with the completion of the game? What will the victory look like? How do participants exit the game? All this relates to the result of the game, its final state. I like to think of this state in tangible terms as a kind of prototype, project plan or list of ideas. I think you have already remembered that tangibility helps to better feel the goal, gives a sense of satisfaction. After finishing work, the team can see what it created.
    • Initial state. It is equally important to know what the initial conditions look like. What do we know? What do we not know? Who is in our team? What resources does the team have?

    Having collected as much information as possible about the initial and final states (remember that often goals are vague!), You can start filling out the form of the game. As in a good film, the game can be divided into three parts.

    In the first act, the scene is set up, acquaintance with the players, development of themes, ideas and information about the new world. Then comes the time for research and experimentation with these topics. In the third act, they come to conclusions, make decisions and plan what happens next - it can be either the next game or something else.

    Each of the stages of the game has its own purpose.

    • Opening. The whole first act is devoted to this aspect - the discovery of the intentions of the participants, the discovery of opportunities. Participants appear in the room, cards are laid out on the table, information and ideas are presented. This stage can be compared with an explosion of imagination and opportunity.

      The more ideas you present at this stage, the more material for work will be in the future. There is no place for critical thinking or skepticism, it is a time of creativity, brainstorming, energy and optimism. The key word of the stage is “diverging” (discovery), since we need the broadest possible perspective. The new world should be populated with as many diverse ideas as possible.

    • The study. Filling space with ideas and energy, you need to explore them and conduct various experiments. It is at this stage that the search for patterns and analogies begins, attempts are made to look at known things from a different angle, ideas are screened out and sorted, models are built and tested, etc. The key word of this stage is “derivative” (study). You are trying to create conditions that allow unexpected, amazing and amazing things to appear.

    • Completion. In the last act, the time comes for conclusions - decisions, actions and next steps. It's time to evaluate the ideas, look at them with a critical or realistic look. You can’t realize everything and chase after every opportunity. You should choose the most promising. What is the best way to spend your time and energy? The key word of this stage is “converging” (completion): you narrow the field of view as much as possible, choosing the most promising things for further work.

    When developing an exercise or a seminar, think like a composer who distributes different types of activities to achieve the necessary harmony between creativity, reflection, pondering, energy and decision making. There is no one right way to design games. Each company and each country has its own unique culture, each group has its own dynamics. Some may move faster than others, while others need more time to think.

    For example, in Finland you may encounter long pauses, during which the interlocutors consider the answer to the question. People with other cultural backgrounds often feel uncomfortable in such a situation. As a homework, come up with a procedure that is suitable for both the group you work with and the situation you are working on.

    Opening, studying and completing are the key principles that help to build the procedure and get the best possible results for any group. A typical one-day workshop can consist of an endless variety of games, connected to each other by a multitude of options. You can build a chain in which the end of one game will create the initial conditions for the next.

    The figure below shows a chain of three games. Each has clear stages of beginning, study, and completion. The result of the previous game is the beginning for the next. This is a very simple construct that any member of the group can understand.

    And so the situation in which three long intensive games are interspersed with two shorter ones looks so schematic. Short games can be used as a way to relax the group before more intense activities.

    Sometimes, especially in large groups, it makes sense to consider several goals at the same time. Key to game design is the idea of ​​varying the opening and closing of games, denoted as a division / report on the results. A large group is divided into smaller subgroups, which after one or two games are united again and inform everyone about the results achieved. With this parallel approach, groups remain small and dynamic, and ideas become more varied.

    We should not forget that people need time to think. Therefore, it makes sense to take breaks. The process of dividing into smaller groups and subsequent collection for a general report just allows you to strike a balance between the exchange of ideas and their reflection, giving along the way a little free time. For example, you can ask group members to perform individual exercises, the result of which should then be voiced for everyone.

    In the following diagram, in the process of opening the session, three different goals were identified, on which three small groups began to work in parallel. After completion, the groups united again, and each reported on the results of its activities.

    The following diagram demonstrates how the result of the first game turns into the initial conditions for five games, which, in turn, generate conditions for two more games. The result of these two is used as a start for one, longer game. This type of connection can correspond to a seminar, during which numerous ideas and programs that need to be studied in parallel are considered.

    And here is how a one-day-long game looks like in which the morning part is given mainly to divergent actions, generating ideas and information, while the research phase is divided into two parts with a break
    for lunch. It is followed by evening converging actions leading to a single result. The group dines together at four tables, which provides an opportunity for informal conversation and reflection on morning activities. This design is acceptable for a group, each member of which is interested in all stages of the game to one degree or another and no one wants to leave the playing field before the completion of the process.

    It also happens that the game is already in full swing, when suddenly something is found that makes you change its direction. In the following diagram, the result of discovery and research was an additional, completely unexpected goal. Therefore, the group decided to split into two parts; one team continued to work on the old goal, while the other took up the new one.

    Well, it's time to create a game or even a series of games. Where do we start? What tools do we need? Remember that the search for new ideas in the game is such an approach to work, as a result of which you want to get unpredictable, amazing achievements. This is a method of research and discovery.

    For a moment, remember the people who have explored our world, such as Columbus, Lewis and Clark, Ernst Shackleton and Admiral Bird. Try to imagine how they could feel. You are also in a search that may not be successful. But at the same time, you will most likely find things that you did not expect to find. You only vaguely imagine what you will encounter along the way, and therefore you have to carry with you everything you might need.

    Below is an example of one game.

    Chapter 5: Opening Games. Game Brainstorm 3-12-3
    Purpose of the game

    The basis of the game “Brainstorm 3-12-3” (3-12-3 Brainstorm) is taken as an ordinary brainstorm, placed in a more rigid time frame. The numbers 3-12-3 refer to the time intervals allocated for each of the three stages: 3 minutes to generate ideas, 12 minutes to create an approximate concept based on them, and last 3 minutes to present the result.

    Tight timing leads to spontaneous quick decisions, as there is simply no time left for thinking too carefully. The best results in this exercise are obtained for groups with an initially leisurely style of thinking, although it is most difficult to involve them in such an event.

    With a short duration (only 30 minutes for 10 participants), this type of brainstorming can both provide energy for a longer practice, and can be used as an independent exercise. It is suitable for generating new ideas and for improving existing ones.

    Number of players The

    time the exercise takes is directly proportional to the number of participants. In groups of up to 10 people, execution speed can serve as an energy generator. With a larger number of participants, in order to speed up the process, it makes sense to break them not into pairs, but into triples.

    The duration of the game is

    21-30 minutes, depending on the number of players.


    The topic for brainstorming is desirable to formulate in a nutshell. You can consider an existing problem, for example, “work efficiency”, or try to create something new, say, “television of the future”.

    Of course, instead of a few words, you can use a full-fledged question, for example, “How should the television of the future function?”, But at this stage it is better to avoid it. The designation of the topic in a nutshell directs the thinking process to defining aspects, from which you can then move on to new concepts or suggestions for solutions.

    Hand out cards and markers to participants. Everyone should have at hand a sufficient number of cards. Immediately after explaining the rules, the game should begin.

    • 3 minutes - accumulation of points of view. During the first three minutes of the exercise, participants determine the characteristics of the proposed topic and write them on separate cards. To speed up the process, you can invite the group to write down “nouns and verbs” that come to mind when thinking about a given topic, or resort to free associations. As with any brainstorming, this phase should not be resorted to filtration, since the participants are tasked with accumulating as much material as possible for subsequent processing in a short time.
    • 12 minutes - concept development. At this stage, the group is divided into pairs. Each pair randomly selects three cards from a common pile. Using them as a starting point, you need to develop a concept that will then be presented to the rest of the group. If the two words that represent the topic are enough to explain the task, the game begins. Otherwise, the topic should be developed by formulating it, for example, in this way: “How to improve work efficiency in the next quarter?”. In the process of working on the concept, you can create sketches, prototypes and other visual aids. Please note that a subsequent presentation should not take more than three minutes.
    • 3 minutes - presentation. You can start your story about your concept by showing the original cards and explaining how they influenced the thinking process. We recall once again that the decisive factor here is the tight time frame - each pair should fit in a maximum of three minutes. After completing all the presentations, the group may reflect on the information received.


    The main factor in this case is speed. Without a tight time frame, even with the best mood of the participants, many traditional options for brainstorming do not give the best results. In addition, speed proves the value of quick thinking, valuable ideas often arise quickly and do not require a long discussion for their birth.

    After the presentation of all the concepts, several options are possible. You can carefully think about individual concepts and try to connect them with each other. You can vote and choose the most successful of the ideas that will be developed in the future. Often, the concepts developed during this exercise are well remembered by the participants due to the stress experienced in the process of their creation, caused by tough time frames.

    The game was invented by James Macanufo.

    The book is on the website of the publisher's
    table of contents

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