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Innovative Games:Should we really be raising expectations?

Amit Batra
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 04, 2006
Posts: 361
There is a saying in s/w shops. The client will usually ask for the stars and he and we will be lucky if we can deliver the moon. I have read the posts about how not to refer to these techniques as games per se, but lets be honest these 'techniques' or processes do involve the use of cardboard cutouts and colorful cartoons. I think if a developer employed these with customers the client may think either:
1. This guy doesnt seem very competant and/or this is probably his first gig or
2. This guy seems really experienced and well versed in what hes doing and using these techniques he'll surely be able to deliver all that I have asked for and more. Is it advisable to really lead the client on like this? these do seem to be rather unconventional techniques. It seems like a double edged sword to break from convention.
[ November 01, 2006: Message edited by: Amitabha Batranab ]
Marc Peabody
pie sneak

Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727

I do agree that you need to have customers that trust you before employing innovation games. If you haven't established yourself as a trustworthy and credible resource, such "unconventional" efforts will likely be ridiculed.

I don't think that impressing the users will make them have unrealistic expectations. Some of the games like "Buy a Feature" and "Prune the Product Tree" actually help to manage customer expectations.

Users that ask for the stars are usually those that aren't given estimates on features, yet they have some limitation to deal with like a timeline.

This is like telling a person they can go on a shopping spree of $1000 in a store that doesn't have price tags. The person will simply load their cart with anything that looks cool. In fact, they will overload the cart because they don't want to be under and miss out on getting something more.

The games help users be smarter shoppers by making them think about what they really need and letting them know how much they can have. They will help you manage expectations and keep them from getting out of hand.

A good workman is known by his tools.
Luke Hohmann

Joined: Oct 05, 2006
Posts: 27
Amitabha, have you had a chance to read the book? If you do, I think you'll find that I stress being very careful in framing customer expectations that the purpose of the games is to seek understanding, not to make binding commitments and deliverables on roadmaps. It is during the post-processing phase of the game that you'll review what your customers have said, integrate this understanding with existing plans, and then make thoughtful choices about how to move forward. In this process I stress writing a follow-up thank-you letter to your customers that thanks them for participating in your event and carefully outlining how you will respond to their feedback. I think you'll find the sample thank-you letters helpful in this regard.

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"
Ilja Preuss

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
I'd like to add the more general thought that the best way to align expectations with reality is to communicate openly, honestly and frequently. I've never used one, but I'd guess that such a game could easily be used to build a relationship that makes that communication easier.

The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Luke Hohmann

Joined: Oct 05, 2006
Posts: 27
Ilja - agreed. Part of the open, honest dialog that we have to have with our markets is *listening*. The games give you another set of chances to really *listen* to you your customers, and once you've established that you genuinely care about what they have to say you'll find that you're well on your way to establishing the deep relationship that leads to the best products and services.
I agree. Here's the link:
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