Customizing Games for Your Event
One of the more common questions concerns the degree to which Innovation Games can be tailored to meet specific situations. Although you should feel comfortable in modifying these games to meet your needs, avoid doing so until you've gained experience in the techniques as they are presented. If you do tailor the games, it is best to do so in the context of long-established and strong customer relationships.
An example of a company that has successfully tailored Innovation Games is AirIT, a leading provider of turnkey, integrated software solutions to the transportation industry. AirIT's flagship product is PROPworks, a comprehensive software program designed to manage the lease, property, and revenue information needed to operate complicated businesses and transportation facilities of all sizes. This includes airports, seaports, and railroads, as well as large national and global commercial enterprises.
AirIT has become fairly sophisticated in their use of Innovation Games, trying them in several novel formats and extending the basic concept by trying out new kinds of games at their annual user's conference. In this section I'll describe three variations of the games that AirIT created for their 2005 user's conference. I'm doing this so that you can see how others have tailored the games for their unique situation.
The common theme in all of AirIT's choices was not using a facilitator. Instead, AirIT created a very relaxed way to play the games over the two-day user's conference through the use of a "Think Tank." In their design, the "Think Tank" was an open room where you could play the games and share ideas with AirIT employees.
Overall, AirIT was pleased with their results (as you can see in their client-facing thank you letter later in Part Three). One area of common disappointment with this approach for all three games was that because they didn't use a facilitator, they were not able to deeply explore their customers' intentions or desires relative to the various games they played. Future events will probably focus on more traditional facilitation.
Customizing Speed Boat
AirIT made two modifications to this game. First, they renamed it after their product, calling it PROPworksShip of State game. Second, they made the following changes to the game play:
Customizing Product Box
AirIT made three modifications to the game. First, like Speed Boat, they renamed it to match their product line, calling it the PROPbox Game. Second, they adopted the variant of the game in which they awarded a prize for the best box. They modified the game play as follows:
Customizing Buy a Feature
In this case, AirIT leveraged the location of the event, Washington, D.C., to help customize the game. Instead of offering features for sale, they offered features for purchase through contributions to a "Political Action Committee." As recommended by the game, they offered money to each attendee of the conference and priced features in a way that forced customers to work together (no one customer could purchase a feature). Feature purchases were tracked in an openly visible way so that when one feature was purchased, other members of the PROPpac (PropWorks Political Action Committee) would not have to further consider it. This game probably suffered the most from the lack of a facilitator because the rich negotiations between customers about who wanted what feature were lost. Even still, the event provided a rich opportunity for AirIT to gain a better understanding of customer desires.