Gamestorming Session notes from SXSWi


Gamestorming
Dave Gray - Dachis Group, VizThink, XPLANE co-founder @davegray
James Macanufo - XPLANE @macgeo
Sunni Brown - Ogilvy @sunnibrown
#gamestorming
  • imagine it’s your job to facilitate a meeting. the stakes are to solve global warming. you only have a day. you have the people in the room. what do you do?
  • options
    • the boredom of business as usual
      • agenda 9am 10am 11am
      • slides being projected
      • boring as hell
      • people are checking their email
      • the smart people get an important phone call and have to leave
    • chaos of creativity
      • post it notes
      • everyone talks over each other
      • it’s wild and crazy
      • they feel kinda good, they generated a million ideas
      • but at the end of the day you have a million post it notes, and that’s it.
    • nothingness <------> chaos
  • how would you like to be the meeting jedi?
  • everything starts with energy
    • it’s true of people, cars, and meetings
  • camp fire vs forest fire
    • one is out of control, and one is in control
    • one will kill you, and one will keep you warm
  • require a spark + fuel to keep going
  • a campfire has a structure you design in.
  • business at usual = no fire, chaos meeting = forest fire
  • energy will follow the path of least resistance
    • traffic will flow through streets
    • water through channels
    • ball down hill
    • you can structure where the energy goes in a meeting
  • What kind of result do you want?
    • new ideas, agreement, tough decisions, problem-solving, unraveling complexity
  • Monopoly
    • board world
    • pieces: players
    • objects: properties, houses
    • making flow: rules, flow around board
    • breaking flow: dice, chance
  • Gamestorming
    • Players
    • objects: sticky notes, index cards
    • whiteboard = world
    • making flow: rules, flow
    • breaking flow: shuffling
  • Tools on the Table
    • Firestarting
    • Sketching
    • Improvisation
    • Meaningful
  • Firestarting
    • you should never go into a meeting with no idea of how to ignite conversation
    • strategically have a provocative question that gets people engaged and dictates where the conversation will go
      • fill in the blank: I want my appliances to start telling me ________________
  • Sketching
    • is visual language
    • is just as important or more important than text based language
    • having a meeting with just text is like having the meeting with one hand tied behind your back
    • you don’t have to be divinci 
  • Improvisation
    • it creates possibilities
    • if you are in a meeting, and are only comfortable with not being surprised, you’ll only get predictable stuff
    • being comfortable with the possibility of something going terrible wrong
  • Meaningful space
    • we think an idea is a lightning bolt or isolated incident
    • it’s a bunch of neurons firing in sync at the same time in a new way
    • you need a space which is going to stimulate neurons to fire
    • an ordinary space is not going to generate new neuron patterns
  • always try something new, keep it fresh
  • MEME MACHINE game
    • treat the room as a giant computer
    • lots of parallel processing
  • AWESOMENESS app
    • Phase 1:
      • pick your favorite software app and your favorite physical product
      • think of a new business idea using attributes of both
      • on a card, create a “pitch slide” to sell your idea
    • Phase 2:
      • Move awesome ideas to the front
      • move lame ideas to the back
      • Move serious ideas to the left
      • move funny ideas to the right
      • ideas migrate: you have to sell people on the direction you think it should go.
      • it’s a series of pair-wise trades
  • Bringing it back to work
    • 3 personalities you are likely to meet
      • the ghost
        • we never follow through
          • we get lots of good ideas, and we never do anything with it.
          • good ideas die on the vine
        • solution
          • write things down. create artifacts.
          • the ghost thrives in the dark.
          • a challenge with distributed teams is that we have no tangible artifacts. 
          • paper is great technology.
          • put the paper on the wall.
      • the bad apple
        • not while i’m here
          • the person who shows up late, question the process, shits on someone’s idea, and then leaves early
        • challenge the notion of this prototype
          • “creative bad apple”: i’m too creative for this
          • “busy bad apple”: i am too busy for this, i have to attend 3 or 4 meetings at the same time.
        • solution
          • if you have to engage with them, give them something to do. give them a job, a role in the meeting.
            • you are going to be the scribe
          • plenty of good techniques (p.61 in the book) to insure people don’t dominate the meeting
          • make it voluntary: if they don’t want to be there, give them the option to leave.
      • the kid
        • i wanna play. play fair!
          • you’re going to have people who just want to share their point of view.
        • solutions
          • kids are showing up to this playground, and your job is to ensure they can play well together.
  • Try this:
    • 4-5 people
    • small room, no desks. compress the space - physically intimate
    • provocative question
    • open it and close it - 90 minutes
  • The book: 
  • Want to try it out with a friendly community?
    • VizThink has local communities all over the world, and they are doing gamestorming.

  • Questions
    • Q: Some cultures are conservative. What can you do?
      • You respect their culture, and get them to take a step.
      • It may be success just to get them to use post-it notes.
      • Stretch their comfort zone just a bit.
      • Run a short 20 minute game, and they will have a positive experience. Then you can do on bigger scale.
      • most people are grateful just not to be bored.
    • Q: When kids that have different learning styles, when you provide them an opportunity to learn it in a way that meets their style, they learn best. if you ask them to do things they are not comfortable.
      • It’s a choice between boredom/disengaged and engagement/uncomfortable, it’s better to have engagement.
      • gamestorming incorporates all forms of learning styles.
      • Most meetings are generally highly skewed by verbal/writing modalities. so the people most threatened by gamestorming are likely to be those really good at verbal/writing. The loss in participation from those people are more than made up by the increase in participation from the people who are normally left out.
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