Posted on

Speed Boat

Object of Play

Speedboat is a short and sweet way to identify what your employees or clients don’t like about your product/service or what’s standing in the way of a desired goal.  As individuals trying to build forward momentum on products or projects, we sometimes have blind spots regarding what’s stopping us. This game lets you get insight from stakeholders about what they think may be an obstacle to progress.

Number of Players

5–10

Duration of Play

30 minutes

How to Play

  1. In a white space visible to the players, draw a boat with anchors attached and name the boat after the product/service or goal under discussion.  This picture is the metaphor for the activity—the boat represents the product/service or goal and the anchors represent the obstacles slowing the movement toward a desired state.
  2. Write the question under discussion next to the boat. For example, “What are the features you don’t like about our product?” or “What’s standing in the way of progress toward this goal?”
  3. Introduce Speedboat as a game designed to show what might be holding a product/service or goal back.  Ask the players to review the question and then take a few minutes to think about the current features of the product/service or the current environment surrounding the goal.
  4. Next, ask them to take 5–10 minutes and write the features of the product/service they don’t like or any variables that are in the way on sticky notes.  If you’d like, you can also ask the players to estimate how much faster the boat would go (in miles or kilometers per hour) without those “anchors” and add that to their sticky notes.
  5. Once they are finished, ask them to post the sticky notes on and around the anchors in the picture.  Discuss the content on each sticky note and look for observations, insights, and “ahas”.  Notice recurring themes, because they can show you where there’s consensus around what’s holding you back.

Strategy

This game is not about kicking off a complaint parade.  It’s designed to gather information about improvements or ambitions, so be careful to frame it as such. Tell the players that the intention is to reveal less-than-desirable conditions so that you can be empowered to move the product/service or goal toward an improved state.

That being said, be aware of the fact that many groups have a tendency to move immediately toward analysis of an improved state. They shift into problem-solving mode. However,doing so disrupts the nature of this game play. After the activity, it’s probable that you won’t have all the information or the right stakeholders to respond to the challenges comprehensively.  So, if you hear the players critiquing or analyzing the content, gently tell them that problem solving is for another game—try to keep their attention focused solely on description, not solution.

Speedboat is based on the same-named activity in Luke Hohmann’s book, Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play.

Online Speed Boat Game

Here is another image of the Speed Boat Game. But this one is special – clicking on the image to the right, will start an “instant play” game at www.innovationgames.com. In this game, there will be icons that you can drag on your online Speed Boat Board:

  • Anchors represent what is preventing your product or service from being as successful as it could be.

This metaphorical game can be altered to suit your needs. For example, Jonathan Clark’s Speed Plane uses an airplane instead of a boat and replaces anchors with luggage. Customizing the game will make it more relatable to your business and can result in more valuable feedback.

Keep in mind that that this is a collaborative game. This means that you can invite other players to play. And when they drag something around – you’ll see it in real time!

Posted on

Origins of Games

Gamestorming makes vivid for me the culture in which I wish to live.  It’s a culture which meets us where we are, which encourages us to stretch and grow, just a bit at a time, with every game we play.  Each game has an object of play, and so we can feel safe that we know why we’re playing it.  We can play games that are tried and true, we can adapt them and combine them, and we can create entirely new games, as needed.

In my own words, it’s a culture of the poor-in-spirit who want to take many small leaps of faith (as in I’d like to check this out) rather than just one big one (as in Trust me!)  Gamestorming makes real my belief that every way of figuring things out can be shared as a game.  I’d love to know, apply and share a directory of these many ways in math, science, engineering, medicine, finance, law, ethics, philosophy, theater, art, music, architecture, agriculture, homemaking and many other fields. Happily, Gamestorming is an inviting community, and for me, a logical place from which to reach out to other practices and appreciate them.

And so I learned of Dave Snowden and the Cognitive Edge research network focused on sensemaking.  They develop and share a set of methods, some of which, like Ritual Dissent, are very much games in the Gamestorming sense.  I believe that others, like the Cynefin framework, make for advanced games, which take some time to learn. I engaged Dave by way of Twitter. He tweeted: Give me a reference to gamestorming and I will happily take a look.  The best summary that I could find was the Amazon review, which reproduces the back cover.  So I thought a good project would be to create a Wikipedia article on Gamestorming.

Wikipedia’s guidelines for inclusion don’t allow articles to be created for neologisms.  A subject most be notable.  So I included academic references to Gamestorming, such as Jon H.Pittman’s syllabus for Design as Competitive Strategy, Christa Avampato’s use of Gamestorming in her social media marketing class and Franc Ponti’s talk on Trends in innovation for restless people. I submitted my article for review by Wikipedia editors.  Within an hour or so, they put it up: the Gamestorming article.

I include below the references to the origins of the many games.  The Wikipedia editors took them out of the article.  That’s unfortunate because the Gamestorming authors took care to credit the people who created, popularized or inspired the games.  Some of the games have roots way back:

Since the 1970s, notably in Silicon Valley, new games are contributing to a culture of facilitating creativity:

  • 4 Cs is based on a game by Matthew Richter in the March 2004 publication of Thiagi GameLetter.
  • Anti-Problem is based on Reverse It from Donna Spencer’s design games website, http://www.designgames.com.au
  • Brainwriting is credited to Michael Michailko’s Thinkertoys and also Horst Geschke and associates at the Batelle Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, and also related to 6-3-5 Brainwriting developed by Bernd Rohrbach.
  • Bodystorming was coined by Colin Burns at CHI’94 in Boston, Massachusetts. See: Bodystorming.
  • Business Model Canvas was designed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, and featured in their book, Business Model Generation.
  • Campfire was inspired by Tell Me A Story: Narrative and Intelligence (Rethinking Theory) by Roger Schank and Gary Saul Morson.
  • Customer, Employee, Shareholder is based on the Stakeholder Framework developed by Max Clarkson in A Stakeholder Framework for Analyzing and Evaluating Corporate Social Performance in the Academy of Management Review (1995).
  • Design the Box is attributed, independently, to Luke Hohmann, Jim Highsmith and Bill Schackelford.
  • Context map, Cover Story, History Map, Visual Agenda and The Graphic Gameplan are credited to The Grove Consultants International.
  • Fishbowl is based on ideas from Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner et al.
  • Force Field Analysis is based on Kurt Lewin’s framework Force Field Analysis.
  • Graphic Jam is inspired by Leslie Salmon-Zhu of International Forum for Visual Practitioners.
  • Help Me Understand is adapted from Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making by Sam Kaner and inspired by Five W’s and H in Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, Second Edition by A.B.VanGundy, Jr.
  • Heuristic Ideation Technology is documented by Edward Tauber in his 1972 paper HIT:Heuristic Ideation Technique, A Systematic Procedure for New Product Search.
  • Image-ination is based on Picture This! adapted from the Visual Icebreaker Kit.
  • Make a World is inspired by Ed Emberley’s book.
  • Open Space was invented by Harrison Owen, author of Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide. See: Open Space.
  • Pecha Kucha / Ignite, first held in Tokyo in 2003, was devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture. See: Pecha Kucha.
  • Post-Up is based on exercises in Rapid Problem-Solving with Post-it Notes by David Straker.
  • The Pitch and Value Map are by Sarah Rink.
  • Red:Green Cards are by Jerry Michalski.
  • Speedboat, 20/20 Vision and Prune the Future are based on Luke Hohmann’s innovation games in his book Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play.
  • Talking Chips was inspired by the email program Attent by Byron Reeves.
  • Wizard of Oz was pioneered in the 1970’s in the development of the airport kiosk and IBM’s listening typewriter.
  • The World Cafe as practiced at The World Cafe.
  • Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and especially, James Macanufo contributed many new games to the Gamestorming book.

Please, let’s remember all who have created games. They are our points of departure for Gamestorming as a culture.