In the Moment

Games as Innovation Learning Tools

Mark Kuznicki

People tasked with creating new value propositions and service experiences know how difficult it can be to bring innovation methods into their organizations.

If you are a customer experience professional you may have had to challenge traditional mindsets, and you have likely asked yourself how you might rally your organization around what is a collaborative and cross-functional endeavour. As an intrapreneur you may be faced with the challenge of building the necessary capacity to deliver on your organization’s and customer’s needs. Innovation and design practitioners are immersed in the complexity of an ever-changing industry in which hundreds of tools and methods compete for attention: design thinking, agile, lean startup, to name a few.

Innovation is hard work. It is a very broad topic, requiring a willingness to work through ambiguity. There are also many types of innovation to be considered when forging a new path for your organization. If you’re trying to make change to create great services, products and experiences, it can be a daunting challenge.

Our team here at The Moment created a game to help teams set up their innovation projects for success. How do we teach people to become confident in this space when the discipline of innovation is evolving so quickly? We believe that preparing teams to engage in this important work requires modes of learning that help people to have conversations around new ways of thinking and make new concepts both understandable and actionable.

Why an Innovation Game?

We often use innovation and design games to help clients explore and work through various kinds of specific challenges, from the future of television to modelling new kinds of product offerings. We saw a need for a game that could introduce leaders and teams to the world of innovation and service design.

Games provide an interactive approach to having a conversation that is both animated and fun, and bring the players together to engage in problem solving, decision making, and providing quick feedback.

We’ve all dozed off during a university lecture, or wondered when the next conference snack break was going to be. PowerPoint presentations are not the most effective learning tools. In order to learn deeply, people must be engaged deeply.

The traditional classroom…in many ways stifles some of the attributes most crucial for human learning: persistence, risk taking, collaboration, problem solving.”(1)

Games set the stage for learning through active doing, rather than learning through passive listening. By engaging actively and playfully with the content, our intention is to give participants a deeper learning experience that they are more likely to remember and take key insights away from.

People learn the most when they are given a challenge, and the risk associated with failure is reduced. A game allows us to create a scenario in which players can explore a business challenge without fear of damaging results. As innovation leaders know that “one of the best negative predictors of [staff] performance [is] the act of walking away after failure. Low scores themselves were far less significant than abandonment.”(2)

Games are defined by a set of rules that creates a space for play. Since our earliest experiences as children, play is a fundamental way that humans learn. When designing an innovation game, we work with creating these goals and boundaries to activate play.

…clear goals and constraints help focus our energies and efforts and can improve and clarify outcomes and motivate us to move forward to the next clearly defined challenge and reward cycle.(3)

Innovation Project ChallengeBETA

We created the Innovation Project Challenge game in order to quickly engage cross-functional teams in the complex topic of design-driven innovation. We are debuting this game at the Customer Experience Strategies Summit in Toronto April 7th, and will be looking to iterate on and share what we learn from our participants as they play with us. We believe the conversations that will happen as a result of game play will be a launching pad for teams to do the best work possible, and we’re looking forward to testing that belief.

In many ways the framework that is the basis of this game is a reflection of all the work we have done over the years. In creating it, we hoped to synthesize many methodologies and tools, including: design thinking, service design, lean startup, agile project management, and systems thinking. We wanted to do all this while making this vast body of knowledge accessible to new audiences in a game format.

We also adapted Keeley’s Ten Types of Innovation, and were very inspired by the Implementation Dilemma, a talk by Dr. Munib Karavdic and Jon Campbell we saw at the 2015 Service Design Global Conference. We reference many tools from countless innovation design thinkers and practitioners, many of whom we’ve had the privilege of knowing and learning from. We are proud to build upon all the great work of many of our colleagues, mentors and sources of inspiration.

We are very excited about the potential learning opportunities that the Innovation Project Challenge presents. If you are interested in knowing more about or playing the game, please get on the list. If there is sufficient interest, we may decide to publish the game so people around the world can use it with their teams.

Our Approach to Learning

Everything we do at The Moment is focused on setting our clients on a sustained path to innovation, with the aim of creating great products, services, business models and experiences. We support our clients in their learning journey as they pursue their innovation goals. We design our engagements to build capability by creating and facilitating immediate, real-world applications of knowledge and skills.

The best way we know of doing this is the Learning Lab, in which we help teams learn human-centred design methods for innovation by working on a real-world project that has been identified as a priority. Whether they are researching customer needs, developing and prototyping concepts and testing concepts with customers, we deliver just-in-time relevant learning and coaching while Learning Lab teams create real value for their customers.

In the spirit of Innovation Project Challenge, there is no single place to begin your innovation journey. Start where you are…you are always moving forward. Are you ready to play?

Start here to find out where your organization is on its innovation journey.

How Innovative Is Your Organization?

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