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Serious Fun Conference
Innovation Games at Work
From the Blog
Game Spotlight
Knowsy News
Cyberspace Roundup
Meet the Team
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  Serious Fun Conference     

TTI Vanguard Logo
Join Luke Hohmann on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at TTI Vanguard's Serious Fun Conference. The Chicago, IL-based event will bring together industry gurus and thought leaders to discuss how serious work is, and will be, done through a combination of serious games and collaborative play. Luke's session is entitled "Blank!!!".

Venue: Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago.

Date: May 3-4, 2011   

 Knowsy Agile UX Design Meetup

Lane Halley, Innovation Games Trained Facilitator & User Experience Strategist, will present her experiences working with Innovation Games on our first consumer app for the iPad, Knowsy, at the May 5th Agile Experience Design Meetup in New York, NY. Register & more details here.

 GRILOG: Software Innovation Forum

Innovation Games Trained Facilitator Alexandre Boutin will host a session on Innovation Games at GRILOG's forum on Software Innovation in Meylan, France on May 19, 2011. 

May Days: Innovation Games Class in Belgium

Join Maarten Volders, an Innovation Games Qualified Instructor, for a 2-day Innovation Games class in Meche
len, Belgium
on May 30-31, 2011. Early Bird rate ends April 30; register now.

Tech@State: Serious Games event  

Tech@State, whose mission is connecting technology with opportunity to aid U.S. diplomacy and development, is hosting a two-day forum on May 27-28 at the Newseum in Washington, DC to explore how serious games can be used teach, train and solve problems in ways the real world may not always allow. For more information and to participate, click here.  

#Innovgames at Better Software Conference

Join Bob Hartman for his 1/2 day tutorial entitled, "Collaborate through Innovation Games" at the Better Software  Conference in Las Vegas on June 5, 2011. For more details on the session and to register, go here.  

June Master Class 

Join Luke Hohmann for a 2-day Innovation Games Master Class for Consultants in Mountain View, CA, on June 9-10, 2010. This two-day interactive class covers both in-person and online games--including our new iPad game Knowsy.  For more information and to register, click here

Innovgames Training in Texas  

Qualified Instructor Jeff Brantley will be holding Innovation Games classes in various locations in Texas this summer. Click on each session for complete details. 


Austin: June 28  

Houston, July 26

Dallas, Aug. 16

August 2011: Agile Teams Class  

Qualified Instructor Jeff Brantley will be teaching an Innovation Games for Agile Teams class in Austin, TX on August 23. The class covers in-person and online games, facilitation and presentation skills. Register early for discounts.  

Innovgames Comes to the Mile High City 

Qualified Instructor Jeff Brantley will be teaching a 2-day Innovation Games class in Denver, CO on July 12-13. The class covers in-person and online games, facilitation and presentation skills. Register early for discounts.  

 September 2011: Innovation Games Class in Stockholm

Join Maarten Volders, an Innovation Games Qualified Instructor, for a 2-day Innovation Games class in Stockholhm, Sweden
on September 8-9, 2011. Early Bird rate ends August 8; register now.

 September 2011: Innovation Games Class in Helsinki, Finland

Join Maarten Volders, an Innovation Games Qualified Instructor, for a 2-day Innovation Games class in Helsinki, Finland
on September 13-14, 2011. Early Bird rate ends August 12; register now.

November 2011: Innovation Games Class in Belgium

Join Maarten Volders, an Innovation Games Qualified Instructor, for a 2-day Innovation Games class in Mechelen, Belgium
on November 28-29, 2011. Early Bird rate ends Oct. 28; register now.


Welcome to latest April issue of Your Next Move!, our monthly newsletter covering the latest news, events and announcements from the Innovation Games«


Innovation Games at Work

Speed Boat Helps VersionOne Client Navigate the Choppy Waters of Agile Transformation

We hear a lot from the Innovation Games« community about how they're putting the games to work and sometimes that means adapting them in creative ways. Michael DePaoli, an agile coach and product consultant at VersionOne, recently let us know how he's used a modified version of Speed Boat, dubbed "Sail boat", with a VersionOne client.  


Why Speed Boat?  

Well, it's really a modified Speed Boat exercise. We call it "Sail

VersionOne Sailboat image

Opportunities and issues surfaced with the Sail Boat exercise.

Boat" -- the glass half-full version. To give you some context, I'm working as an agile coach, helping a division of a large technology company with agile transformation.   


How did you adapt Speed Boat for this client?
We used "Sail Boat" to identify any issues that would slow the sail boat ("anchors") or possibly sink it ("mines") and also any positive forces that would help propel the agile transformation effort.

What benefits did you gain from the game?
It was an effective way for folks to contribute and not be influenced by others' roles. It also enabled the cross-functional team to see that members of their team from other functional areas shared similar concerns.

At the end, we had condensed the issues and opportunities to a critical list. This list is quite valuable when constructing the backlog of stories (work) that need to occur for the Agile Transformation to proceed. At this particular company, we're using Agile to Scale Agile. The findings from the Sail Boat exercise helped to identify additional stories for the Agile Transformation Backlog, but it also provided information that helped to prioritize this backlog.

From the Blog

Gamification, Innovation Games & Seriously Fun Executives

Luke Hohmann
Luke photo 

Arguably the most amazing change I've experienced in the 10+ years that I've been playing serious games is the change in attitudes among senior executives regarding Innovation Games« and other serious games. A decade ago, we had to spend an extraordinary amount of time convincing skeptical senior executives that "serious games" could solve complex business problems and provide amazing insights into market needs. In 2004, O'Reilly rejected my Innovation Games book proposal as being too novel to sell well. (Fortunately, Addison-Wesley published it.) And when we launched Innovation Games« Online, let's just say that our servers didn't crash from an overwhelming amount of traffic.

How things have changed. We're getting calls from senior executives who have clear goals and wish to work with us to explore how games can be leveraged in their business. There are more than a dozen books on serious games and gamification, including the O'Reilly-published book Gamestorming (for which I wrote the foreword). We've sold enterprise licenses to Innovation Games« Online and sign-ups are increasing. And although we have a long way to go -- just this week I had to explain to a skeptic that "real" companies like Cisco, Reed Elsevier, SAP and Oracle play Innovation Games« -- the changes I've outlined are here to stay.

Why are serious executives embracing the seriously fun side of business? Why are serious games no longer just a trend? I've been exploring the reasons behind this shift as I prepare for next week's TTI/Vanguard Serious Fun conference, in which I'll be a speaker. In this post, I'll share why serious games are a new business reality.


Click here to

Game Spotlight
Everybody Loves Buy a Feature

It never fails. Almost every time we ask someone to name his favorite Innovation Game,  Buy a Feature is always near the top. So it should come as no surprise that this month's Google alerts were filled with references to Buy a Feature. Here's a small sampling of how this virtual market game is being put to use around the world.

How Poker Chips Can Help with Planning

Reaching consensus on what to build can be time consuming and prioritizing a backlog of features using a spreadsheet is never much fun. In this post, Kevin Schlabach writes about how he avoided both boredom and wasted time by using Buy a Feature with his CEO, technical staff and product stakeholders.Poker chips

According to Schlabach, "Normally, we spend a lot of time discussing and run out of time before we can prioritize and agree." However, with Buy a Feature the team was able to tackle the problem in one hour. "We came out with a release 1 backlog for the project," write Schlabach, "and we knew exactly where to go next. It is the quickest we've done this."

The game is "very simple, but a valuable approach," Schlabach continues. "We had an area of our system that we realized we had let lapse. We'd been so focused on wringing profit out of the engine that we'd lost sight of the fact that our core feature had been left behind in comparison to our competitors." Want to read more? Click here.

How to Play the 'Buy a Feature' Design Game

Neil Turner, a UK-based UX designer, penned this useful post on how he uses an in-person version of Buy a Feature to get people to choose the features they would like to be available for a given product. According to Neil, "[Buy a Feature] is a great means of teasing out of people which features they would like and why. Like all the best design games, it's very simple to play, but provides incredibly useful feedback."Buy a Feature

Neil's adaption includes involving the players in selecting and pricing features by using feature cards and a game like Planning Poker. He favors using feature cards over a list of features, because he's found that "players find it easier to go through a set of feature cards, rather than a long list as it allows them to create a 'maybe' pile and discard features they don't want." (We often use Prune the Product Tree to elicit product features; for more information on pricing features, see our recent post on the topic.)

To read the complete post, and check out Neil's downloadable templates for money, feature cards and game play, click here.

A License to Print Money

Speaking of downloadable and printable templates, we recently came across this post by EBI Interfaces (an interest forum created by members of the European BinformaticsMix-IT  Buy a Feature Instititute) listing some handy links provided by Hasbro for downloading and printing various denominations of Monopoly money. So if you're out of Monopoly money and don't have time to get some delivered for your next Buy a Feature game, get printing.
Click here for the complete post.

Buy a Feature en Franšais

Agile Coach Emmanuel Etasse held a Buy a Feature session as part of the sold-out Java and Agile conference Mix-IT in Lyon, France on April 5.

Knowsy News
Knowsy Knows Ad Games

In this post on Gamification.co, Jeff Lopez writes about the rise of games in advertising and the innovation that Knowsy and Knowsy Knows brings to the category.

 The foundation of marketing is beginning to shift. For many decades, TV has been the focus of advertising campaigns, but with the Internet, social media, and now games, the structure of advertising has been forced to follow the audience to increasingly interactive mediums. Right now, social media is king, but quickly games will be the new TVKnow Wine Redeem Screen.

Innovation Games has recently developed an interesting product in this category, Knowsy. Innovation Games has typically been involved with gamification of the enterprise and develops digital and community-based games around product development and internal communication. Knowsy represents a new direction for the company. Knowsy is an iPad app that is described as "a sophisticated advertising and choice modeling market research platform disguised as an incredibly fun game." The app promises new developments in the balancing act between game platform and advertising platform.

In the Knowsy platform, advertisements do not take on the typical (annoying) location on a secluded bar at the bottom of the screen. Instead, they become an integral part of the game play. To read more, click here.

Cyberspace Roundup
PTPT for Roadmaps, Gamification for Good, & more


It's been a busy month for Innovation Games in cyberspace. We've selected a few of the more interesting posts here for your reading pleasure.


Roadmapping with Prune the Product Tree

Sameh Zeid writes about how he integrates Prune the Product  

New design tree

Click to play a game now!

Tree into building product roadmaps in this recent

post; he includes an adaption of our standard Prune the Product Tree poster, organizing the tree metaphor along a time horizon (foundation, one year, blue sky) and by designer and user. The empty tree represents the baseline product. "The fruits, leaves and others can represent product portfolio features," write Sameh. "Whether we do Agile, Lean or not, we still need to create product roadmaps." To read more and see an image of the completed tree, click here.


Gamification and Nonprofits

William Sandlin McLaurine II blogs on Gameful.org about how serious games can be used to help nonprofits work better, focusing on several Innovation Games, including Buy a Feature, Spider Web, Prune the Product Tree 

and Remember the Future." McLaurine sees Innovation Games as particularly helpful for leadership coordination and lays out how he would use Buy a Feature, for example, to determine core projects or Spider Web to analyze the connections inside an organization. To read the whole post, visit Gameful.org.

More Games for Goodmap of Hungary

Thank God for Google Translate-- and for Innovation Games spreading around the world. We recently came across this newsletter published by

eGov Consulting, a firm tasked with implementing e-government initiatives in Hungary. The post focuses on how serious games can aid participatory government and profiles our recent work with the City of San Jose, CA. The author ends his post with hope of bringing a similar effort to Hungary. To read more, with the aid of Google Translate, click here. 

Now for Something Completely Different (Well ... Completely Russian)

Innovation Games Trained Facilitator Nikita Filippov recently wrote of how agile training and consultancy ScrumTrek 

has revamped its management training around Agile processes. The Moscow-based company has included Innovation Games, and you can see a video of the teams putting Product Box to work here.

Adobe Reads Innovation Games Book

Janice Campbell writes on her blog of Adobe's Globalization

IG BookNA Book club and its recent reads, including the current choice, Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products through Collaborative Play. According to Janice, the inspiration for the choice came from "attending seminar on Achieving Extraordinary Outcomes: Models for Innovative Thinking, hosted by The Institute for Management Studies." Good luck to Janice as she implements what she learns from the book in her work. To read more about what her book club has read and is reading, click here.

Making You the Star of the Room

Ken Clyne graciously includes a reference to Innovation Games and Gamestorming in this post on how to make sure that the audience is the star of the show. Clyne writes, "Games enable us to get on our feet, exercise our minds, relax and have fun. But games also help us learn to self- organize and work together and can spark innovation as they help us approach business challenges from different directions." Couldn't have said it better. To read more, click here.


Meet the Team
Jeff Brantley, Our Man in Austin, TX

Jeff Brantley, one of our Innovation Games Qualified Instructors, is this month's star. Jeff, based in Austin, TX, is

Jeff Brantley
Jeff Brantley

President of Brantley Marketing and in his words, a "no-nonsense, git 'er done, product guy." His focus is on helping companies build great products and services and making sure all internal teams are contributing to the innovation pipeline. You can find a complete list of his upcoming Innovation Games courses here.


What's your favorite Innovation Game?
Product Box! Incredible market insights, fun team interaction--and tons of stickers! What more could you want?

What is your favorite place in the world?
Barton Creek in Austin after a big rain--and before the big crowds.

What has been your proudest moment?
Watching my son from afar, standing up for himself (and for what was right) against a belligerent peer. He stood strong against a loudmouth punk, and I realized he has a lot more in him than I had when I was 10 years old.

If you could meet any famous person, who would it be?
Leonardo DaVinci... What a creative genius!

What's your favorite piece of clothing?
A really ugly red Hawaiian shirt with a bowling pin print pattern, a pair of Levi's and my well-worn Justin Roper boots.

Who do you want to play Knowsy with?
I'd like to play Knowsy with my wife ... Then maybe she would let me buy an iPad sooner!


Have any news about the Innovation Games« community?  Email us at info@innovationgames.com.


Can't wait for the next newsletter? Do you have to know what's new with Innovation Games«, right now? Find out what's happening with us at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and our blog.    


Tami's signature

Tami Carter
Director of Community and Training
The Innovation Games« Company
Save 25%  
Save 25% on an Innovation Games for Customer Understanding course taught by Luke Hohmann and organized by The Innovation Games Company, when registering with the code WELCOME. For upcoming courses click here. Offer excludes one-day courses and the Innovation Games Master Class. This coupon is transferable. Please share it with interested parties.
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