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Innovation Games: Does the customer realy want to play games?

Klaus Meucht

Joined: Jul 24, 2004
Posts: 13
Hello Mr. Hohmann

I've just visited your website First I looked at the game product box. I'm not sure a customer would like to take some colored pencils, and draw like a child.

Our customer's are often managers. Not Top-managers, but they earn much more as a programmer. They are used to lead people, and I think many managers have problems to get instructions from people in lower positions.

And I think customers are under great pressure. They must prove that every hour of their work has business value. I'm not sure a customer sees a business value in drawing a product box.

Perhaps in America the people are more open-minded as in Europe. Perhaps my problem is that I'm not open-minded to our customers.

Have you used the innovation games in different countries? What can I do if I see my customer is not open-minded in playing games?

[Fixed URL - Dave]
[ October 31, 2006: Message edited by: David O'Meara ]
Luke Hohmann

Joined: Oct 05, 2006
Posts: 27
Klaus -
We have played Innovation Games in several countries and have generally found great success. However, it is also true that in some cases people have not responded well to playing the games. In your case, I can't promise that customers would find business value in drawing a box, but I'm pretty certain that your customers would find business value in helping you better understand their problems.

If you read the book, you'll see that there are several places where I try and help you tailor the games to better integrate the games into customer situations in which the customer may be a little "uncomfortable" playing games.

In the specific case of Product Box, our experience is that most customers do enjoy the process and that the product team gets a lot of value. If you're willing to try the games with an open mind, I think asking for a few hours of their time is entirely reasonable.

Regards,<br /> <br />Luke Hohmann | CEO | Enthiosys, Inc. | <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a> <br />Innovation Through Understanding<br />cell: (408) 529-0319 |<br />| Join the Innovation Games Forum: [URL= of "Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions" and<br />"Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play"
Luke Hohmann

Joined: Oct 05, 2006
Posts: 27
Oh - I forgot to let you know that I'll be speaking at the OOP Conference in Munich in January. If you wish, you can some try the games in person.

David O'Meara

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I was reading Marc's Bunkhouse Review on Innovation Games and it reinforced my initial feelings on the book approach.

When the aim is to get the information out of the heads of your clients and onto the screen, too many things can get in the way. These may include a lack of cohesive approach, personalities and agendas, communication and tracking skills, Chinese whispers and a range of other things.

The approaches in the book are tools. If calling them 'games' causes issues with your client, call them something else. At the end of the day they are additional tricks to use when dealing with clients and (personally) it is the process and outcome that matter.
Luke Hohmann

Joined: Oct 05, 2006
Posts: 27
David's quite right. In fact, within the book I recommend *against* calling them games in your invitation because it may set the wrong expectations with customers. Instead, simply asking customers to join in a meeting in which you'll do something like "clarify their priorities for future product releases" (for games like Prune the Product Tree, 20/20 Vision, or Buy a Feature) or "understand how they see the relationships between your system and other systems" (for games like Spider Web, Show and Tell, or Remember the Future) is usually enough.

Of course, some people intentionally reference the games in their invitation, usually in the context of a larger event or some other customer related goal. In the end, use your knowledge of your customers and your goals for the event to guide your description of the activities when inviting customers.
Frank Carver

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
Although I like the idea of "games" - to me it is evocative of the collaborative process - I can certainly see that others might have a different view. Calling them "workshops" would probably go down much better in the kinds of places I have worked.

Read about me at ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
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