Squiggle Birds

Posted: February 27th, 2015 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for opening, Games for vision and strategy meetings | No comments »

Squiggle birds is a quick exercise that you can use to get people stretching their visual thinking muscles. It takes about five minutes and quickly, clearly demonstrates how little effort is really required to make meaningful, easy-to-read images. The main point of the demonstration is that our minds are already pattern-making machines, and very little drawing is actually required to convey an idea. The mind will fill in the rest.

I learned this exercise from my friend Chris Glynn, a fine teacher who teaches fine things.

Draw Toast

Posted: February 16th, 2015 | Added by: | Filed under: Core Games, Games for design, Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for opening, Games for problem-solving | No comments »


Object of play
You can use the Draw Toast exercise to introduce people to the concepts of visual thinking, working memory, mental models and/or systems thinking. This also works as a nice warm-up exercise to get people engaged with each other and thinking visually. Plus, it’s fun!

Number of players
Any number of people can play this game.

Duration: 10-15 minutes.

How to play
On paper or index cards, ask people to draw “How to make toast.”

After a couple of minutes, ask people to share their diagrams with each other and discuss the similarities and differences. Ask people to share any observations or insights they have about the various drawings. You are likely to hear comments about the relative simplicity or complexity of the drawings, whether they have people in them, how technical they are, how similar or different they are, and so on.

Depending on why you are doing the exercise you may want to point out the following:

  • Note that althought the drawings are all different, they are all fundamentally correct. There are many ways to visualize information and they all enrich understanding rather than being “right” or “wrong.”
  • Although the drawings are different in content, they tend to be similar in structure. That is, most drawings of mental models tend to contain three to seven elements, connected by lines or arrows.

    The main point of this exercise is to demonstrate the power of visual thinking to represent information.

    Visualizations of this kind tend to be easily understandable, although they are visually as rich and diverse as people. Pictures can be fundamentally correct even though they are quite different. There is no “one right type” of visualization.

    When people visualize a mental model, they usually will include 5-7 elements, linked together by lines or arrows. The number of elements tends to correspond to the number of things people can hold in their working memory, also known as short-term memory (See The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two for more information).

    This is also a nice warm-up exercise that is fun and gets people talking to each other.

    There is an excellent TED talk by Tom Wujec which you may want to watch in preparation. It may also be useful to show to the group in sessions as a way to share insights after the exercise. Tom also has a page with ideas for extending this exercise into group problem-solving which you can find at DrawToast.com.

    The Draw Toast exercise was created by Dave Gray

  • Fast Company discovers dot voting!

    Posted: June 7th, 2014 | Added by: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No comments »

    Looks like Fast Company magazine discovered dot voting. So it’s officially a thing now. Woohoo!

    “Simple dot stickers, just like you can buy from any office supply store, are Google Ventures’ preferred voting mechanism used to narrow down a big pile of ideas to a small pile of good ideas. A concept, or several concepts, are taped to the wall, and team members are allowed to stick a dot on the parts they like most. What results isn’t just a design concept covered in stickers; it’s a heat map for the best ideas.”

    The dead simple way Google Ventures unlocks great ideas.

    iPhone app

    Posted: April 22nd, 2014 | Added by: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 comments »

    Gamestorming Card Deck iPhone app

    Gamestorming iPhone app

    The Gamestorming Card Deck is drawn from the GoGamestorm.com blog, the companion website to ‘Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers’ by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and Dave Macanufo. The cards are frequently updated and will help you learn the fundamentals of visual language, how to illuminate complexities by mapping the big picture and how to use improvisation and games to innovate and solve real problems and help you feel more confident about using visualization in meetings.

    The cards in this deck show you not only how to play — with images and instructions on both sides of the cards — but how to organize the games into favorites and ‘agendas’ for your meeting in the form of stacks. The stacks can be played by swiping through each of the cards as you proceed through your meeting or brainstorming session.

    Here’s how it works:

    Gamestorming iPhone app

    After you’ve downloaded the app, click on the app icon to open the app.

    Gamestorming iPhone app

    You’ll see a deck of cards that you can scroll through, just like you can scroll through apps. Each card represents a game from the Games Wiki. (The app syncs with the wiki, so whenever we add new games to the wiki you can add them to your app by going to the settings menu and clicking “refresh.”). Tap a card to open that card.

    Gamestorming iPhone app

    You’ll see the large version of the card. If you tap the little dog-ear to the lower right the card will flip over and you can read the instructions for that game on the back of the card.

    Gamestorming iPhone app

    The instructions are exactly what you would see in the book or on the Games Wiki. You can scroll down to read the whole card.

    Gamestorming iPhone app

    There’s also a stacks menu, where you can create a stack by adding cards.

    Gamestorming iPhone app

    Once you have a stack, you can click “edit” to rearrange the games in the stack. Create as many stacks as you want. For example you might create one stack for a brainstorming meeting, one for a company retreat, and another for your weekly status meeting. When it’s time for the meeting just open the stack and you can quickly flip through the games in that stack.

    Let the games begin!

    Gamestorming iPhone app
    Get the app now.

    Gamestorming cheat sheet by Brynn Evans

    Posted: January 14th, 2014 | Added by: | Filed under: Facilitator resources | 1 comment »

    Gamestorming cheat sheet

    Check out this Gamestorming cheat sheet by master Gamestormer Brynn Evans.

    Gamestorming design kit

    Posted: January 14th, 2014 | Added by: | Filed under: Facilitator resources | 1 comment »

    Gamestorming design kit

    Check out this excellent Gamestorming design kit created by expert Gamestormer Brynn Evans.

    French Gamestorming user group

    Posted: October 8th, 2013 | Added by: | Filed under: Local and regional Gamestorming groups | 2 comments »

    Congratulations are due on the launch of a new Gamestorming User Group in France! If you’re nearby, check it out!

    Impromptu Speed Networking

    Posted: November 6th, 2012 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for opening, Games for team-building and alignment, Gamestorming wiki | No comments »


    Object of Play

    Ideal activity for flex points in a gathering (the beginning, when coming back from lunch, at the end of the day). Give everyone at a gathering an opportunity to “get there” mentally by engaging with the purpose/subject. Give everyone a significant amount of “air time” so that everyone’s voice is in the conversation (no matter how many participants, everyone 5-10 minutes). Energize participants and get oxygen to the brain by standing and moving physically).

    Number of Players

    Unlimited. This activity “scales” really well from a minimum of around 12 to thousands.

    Duration of Play

    20 minutes

    How to Play

    1. Invite everyone to leave their “stuff” and move to an open space in the room where everyone can stand and there’s room to move around.

    2. Pose a juicy question that is directly related to the purpose of the gathering.

    3. Ask everyone to reflect on the question silently for a full minute

    4. Explain the simple rules;

    - When you hear the chimes, find a partner (someone you know less well than others is more interesting). If you’re looking for a partner put your hand in the air so someone else who needs a partner can find you easily.

    - Have a 5 minute conversation about the question.

    - When the chimes ring again, find a new partner (remember the hand up trick) and have another conversation.

    - When the chimes ring continuously, stop and find out what happens next.

    5. Three ‘rounds’ of the process are usually good.

    6. At this point, there are many possible variations for a next move. Two possibilities: (1) Invite everyone to sit back down and start the next part of the gathering. (2) Invite partners to hook up with one or two other pairs and sit down in a knee-to-knee circle and talk about what struck them about the conversations.


    Debrief this process in addition to harvesting the content from the discussions Invite participants to reflect on what it was like to have the conversation using this process. Things they might notice include: How starting a meeting standing up builds rather than drains energy, how having several iterations of the same conversation with different partners changes understanding, and how questions open up more space for creative thinking than presentations. The goal is to introduce participants to the pattern language of these generative processes.

    Source: Shared by Lisa Kimball of Group Jazz.

    Creating an Empathy Map in Google Docs

    Posted: April 29th, 2012 | Added by: | Filed under: Various | No comments »

    A very nice post by David Bland over at scrumology shows you, step by step, how to make an Empathy Map in Google docs. What a great idea. Check out the post or Brand’s Google doc example.

    Gamestorming for service design

    Posted: February 22nd, 2012 | Added by: | Filed under: Facilitator resources, Games for design | No comments »

    As part of the kickoff for the Global Service Jam, I was asked to offer some tips on how service designers could use gamestorming. So I put together a few thoughts in this short video.