Games are a great way to increase engagement levels, encourage innovation or get input on important business issues, and create or foster unique team cultures.
We’re building a collection of games that you can use with your team. Already given some of these a go? We’d love to hear how they went.
PS – some of these games are from a great resource we’ve come across for finding games you can use in your workplace. It’s called Gamestorming and you can access their website here.
Picture Pieces Game
Time Required: 30 minutes
This problem solving activity requires that the leader choose a well known picture or cartoon that is full of detail. The picture needs to be cut into as many equal squares as there are participants in the activity. Each participant should be given a piece of the “puzzle” and instructed to create an exact copy of their piece of the puzzle five times bigger than its original size. They are posed with the problem of not knowing why or how their own work affects the larger picture. The leader can pass out pencils, markers, paper, and rulers in order to make the process simpler and run more smoothly. When all the participants have completed their enlargements, ask them to assemble their pieces into a giant copy of the original picture on a table. This problem solving activity will teach participants how to work in a team and it demonstrates divisionalized ‘departmental’ working, which is the understanding that each person working on their own part contributes to an overall group result.
Sneak a Peek Game
Time Required: 10 minutes
This problem solving activity requires little more than a couple of sets of children’s building blocks. The instructor will build a small sculpture with some of the building blocks and hide it from the group. The participants should then be divided into small teams of four. Each team should be given enough building material so that they can duplicate the structure you’ve already created. The instructor should then place their sculpture in an area that is an equal distance from all the groups. One member from each team can come up at the same time to look at the sculpture for ten seconds and try to memorize it before returning to their team. After they return to their teams, they have twenty-five seconds to instruct their teams about how to build an exact replica of the instructor’s sculpture. After one minute of trying to recreate the sculpture, another member from each team can come up for a “sneak a peek” before returning to their team and trying to recreate the sculpture. The game should be continued in this pattern until one of the team’s successfully duplicates the original sculpture. This game will teach participants how to problem solve in a group and communicate effectively.
Innovation Ambition Matrix
Innovation Ambition Matrix was inspired by the May 2012 Harvard Business Review article, “Managing Your Innovation Portfolio,” written by Monitor’s revolutionary co-partners: Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff. The productive game helps teams develop a holistic view of how to get ahead by organizing initiatives and goals based on three innovation levels: core, adjacent, and transformational. Play Innovation Ambition Matrix to clarify the ambition of a project, develop a cohesive operation rather than a scattering of competing advancements, and identify how to balance your team’s effort allocation.
Number of Players: 5 – 8
Duration of Play: 1 hour
How to Play
1. Start by drawing a graph on a large white board or poster. Label the axes as follows:
X-axis: “How to Win.” This is designated for the novelty of the product that you are offering to customers. Are you using existing, adding incremental, or developing new products?
Y-axis: “Where to Play.” This measures the novelty of your customers. Will the innovation serve an existing, enter an adjacent, or create a new market?
2. Next, draw three curves within the axes as seen in the picture below to divide the chart into the three levels of innovation ambition.
Core (closest to origin): optimize your current products for current customers (ex. make faster technology)
Adjacent: add a new feature to your existing business (ex. create an app version of your website)
Transformational: create breakthroughs for markets that do not currently exist
3. Pass out sticky notes and pens to your team members. Ask them to write current initiatives that they are working on and to post them in the respective area on the chart. Playing with multiple people will help identify what initiatives are being made and reveal different perspectives on how to succeed.
4. When all the initiatives and ideas are posted, discuss how to unify them so everyone is working toward the same mission. Doing so will eliminate competing developments and help everyone understand the overall goal for the innovation.
Strategy: The game works best when the players are team members who have different responsibilities within the project. This will will enable the group to understand the various initiatives being made and eliminate counteractive efforts. After getting rid of competing notes, organize who on the team will be responsible for specific tasks. While Innovation Ambition Matrix is useful to outline current efforts of the team and to clarify the ambition of a project, it can also be used for your company’s long-term goals. Identify where you want your company or team to end up and what balance of innovation levels is needed to help you get there. For instance, if you would like to maintain your company’s position in your industry, focus on core or adjacent innovations. If you need to make an impacting change to get ahead in the market, think of transformational innovations. Planning where efforts are needed will help achieve the company’s innovation ambition efficiently.