Selecting the Right Innovation Game


The Innovation Games Process

The process for playing Innovation Games is based on the market research process described earlier. Most of the steps are the same, but there are a few twists that we'll cover in this section (see Figure 1.11). Part Three of this book includes tools and templates that you can use to help guide you through this process.

Figure 1.11. The Innovation Games Process


Step 1.

Forming Questions and Preparing for Answers

As a form of qualitative market research, Innovation Games are useful in answering many of your questions, but certainly not all of them. The key step here is making sure your goals and questions are appropriate for Innovation Games. This is so important that I've devoted the next section to this topic. It is also important to emphasize that you shouldn't play a game unless you're committed to taking some kind of action based on the results. Innovation Games tend to increase expectations among your customers that you will be doing something with their feedback.



Respond in the Report, Not in Real-time

The collaborative nature of Innovation Games gives you plenty of opportunity to respond to customer feedback in real-time. For example, Speed Boat explicitly asks customers to tell you what they don't like about your product or service, and many times customers will try and pin you down for a specific time frame for fixing a perceived problem. Similarly, Buy a Feature asks customers to collaborate on purchasing their most desired features. When done, they may ask you for commitments on when you'll be delivering on the features they've purchased.

Do everything in your power to resist responding to customer requests in real-time. Responding to requests substantially changes, and can unintentionally stop, the flow of information from your customers. Instead of gathering data, you're responding to problems. They'll realize this, and the most vocal customers will take charge to try and get what they want.

And what your most vocal customers want may not be what the rest of your customers want. You need time to think through the data you obtain while playing the game before committing to a plan of action.

Indeed, committing to a plan of action is risky, as making commitments to customers during a game is almost certainly going to circumvent your normal planning processes. In one situation I've seen these normal planning processes overturn, for good reasons, a commitment made during a game. Explaining this to the affected customers was not fun.

After you have committed to a plan of action, you will want to share this with all your customers. For the customers who played the game, you'll want to share your plan of action in a way that emphasizes how their feedback helped to create this plan. For example, if their feedback resulted in modifications to a development road map, show them the old road map along with the new road map so they can trace the effects of their participation in the games. For your other customers, you'll want to leverage your normal communication channels to keep them up to date on your plans.


Step 2.

Determining the Kind of Data Needed

This step of the market research process is now focused on selecting the right set of games to accomplish the goals and answer the question you've identified in step 1.

Step 3.

Acquiring the Data

This phase encompasses planning and playing the game. This is also discussed in greater detail later in Part One; you'll get the best results if you follow a detailed planning sequence and play the games with a structured team.

Step 4.

Processing/Analyzing the Data

There are two audiences for the results that you'll produce from processing and analyzing the data that you obtain during the game. The first is your internal team, and the result[4] you produce for them should contain whatever is needed to take action. The second is the customers who played the game. Creating a result for them (typically a report) lets them know that you've heard what they had to say. It also gives you a chance to respond to their feedback in a controlled manner, when you've had a chance to think through the implications of your response and to tailor your response to meet the needs of specific customers. For example, during a recent game of Speed Boat, a customer wrote "Price discounts are confusing." Apparently, this was the only customer who felt this way, because none of the other customers playing the game felt that the price discounts were confusing. Still, this was valuable feedback, and the report mailed to this specific customer included additional information on product pricing.

[4] The result you produce could be a report, a presentation, a debriefing meeting with senior executives, or a set of specific recommendations loaded into your requirements management or Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system. You should choose the format that is most likely to motivate your team to take action.

Step 5.

Taking Action

This is the step in which Innovation Games are most like other forms of market research. The goal of playing the games is to always take action with the results.



Innovation Games(c) Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play
Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play
ISBN: 0321437292
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 144
Authors: Luke Hohmann

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