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Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play Paperback – September 7, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0321437297 ISBN-10: 0321437292 Edition: 1st

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Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play + Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers + Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (September 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321437292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321437297
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Luke Hohmann is the founder and CEO of Enthiosys, Inc., a Silicon Valley-based software product strategy and management consulting firm. Luke is also the author of Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions and Journey of the Software Professional: A Sociology of Software Development. Luke graduated magna cum laude with a B.S.E. in computer engineering and an M.S.E in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan. While at Michigan he studied cognitive psychology and organizational behavior in addition to data structures and artificial intelligence. He is a former National Junior Pairs Figure Skating Champion and American College of Sports Medicine certified aerobics instructor. A member of the PDMA, ACM, and IEEE, in his spare time he enjoys roughhousing with his four kids, his wife’s cooking, and long runs in the Santa Cruz mountains (because he really does enjoy his wife’s cooking).

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Innovation Games are fun ways to collaborate with your customers to better understand their needs. You can use them to discover new business opportunities, drive strategy and product road map decisions, improve the effectiveness of sales and service organizations, fine-tune marketing messages, and create more intimate, durable relationships with your customers. You can also use them to better understand the people that you care about the most, from your family and friends to close business colleagues. To illustrate, here are ways some companies and people have used Innovation Games:

Figure 0.1 Innovation Games can be used to accomplish many kinds ofgoals.

Understanding complex product relationships—When Wyse Technologies, Inc. wanted to gain a better understanding of how their customers perceived the business and technical relationships between the products and services provided by Wyse and those provided by other technology providers, they played Spider Web with a select group of customers at their Customer Advisory Board meeting.

Understanding product evolution—Rally Software Development had a more focused objective: they wanted specific feedback on how to prioritize features in upcoming product releases. After considering Buy a Feature, 20/20 Vision, and Prune the Product Tree, three games that help prioritize features, they ultimately chose Prune the Product Tree as the game that allowed them to best capture customer feedback on their development plans.

Understanding sales needs—QUALCOMM used Product Box in an internal sales training exercise to identify critical customer success factors and relate these to product benefits. Another company, Ticketmaster, used Buy a Feature in an internal sales meeting to prioritize the features that the sales team felt would help them accomplish their objectives.

Identifying areas for improvement—Aladdin Knowledge Systems, Inc., QUALCOMM, and Precision Quality Software have all used Speed Boat to identify key areas for improvement in their product and service offerings.

Prioritizing market needs—Emerson Climate Technologies provides the Intelligent Store, a broad and comprehensive architecture that combines unique equipment, software, and services to solve food safety, energy management, and facilities management needs. Emerson used Spider Web, Speed Boat, and 20/20 Vision at their 2006 Technology Advisory Council meeting to better understand market needs relative to all aspects of the Intelligent Store.

Understanding hidden desires—Andre Gous's stepdaughter Karen was having trouble finding just the right used car. Andre runs Precision Quality Software and is a recognized expert on various software requirements engineering techniques. Andre tried using traditional requirements engineering to help her clarify her objectives. Unfortunately, after 45 minutes, they were no closer to the goal of defining her ideal car, and Karen was starting to become a little frustrated with the process. Andre tried Product Box, and in short order they had identified exactly what Karen was looking for in her "new" used car (you can read the entire story at the Innovation Games forum,

Figure 0.2 With a little imagination, Innovation Games can be used in countless situations.

Creating strategic plans—SDForum is the leading Silicon Valley not-for-profit organization providing an unbiased source of information and insight to the technology community for 20 years. Laura Merling, Executive Director of SDForum, used Remember the Future to create a five-year vision for how their organization will evolve to meet the needs of new technology entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and around the world.

These stories illustrate the broad range in which people like you, for professional and personal reasons, are using Innovation Games. You can use Innovation Games to accomplish these and other goals. If you use these games, you'll come to understand what your customers really want. You'll have fun doing it. Perhaps more importantly, they'll have fun doing it. Armed with this understanding, you'll be able to create the breakthrough innovative products that are the foundation of lasting success. This book will show you how.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into three parts.

Part One: The Why and the How of Innovation Games

Part One provides a comprehensive overview of Innovation Games. Starting with why you might want to play them in the first place, it will cover some of the different ways in which you can use the games and answer some of the common questions we get from people who are considering the games. Part One describes an easy-to-use process for selecting, planning, playing, and postprocessing the results of a game in ways that benefit you and your customers. This process has been used successfully in many games. At the end of Part One you'll have the foundation you need to move forward with one or more specific games.

Part Two: The Games

In Part Two you'll learn the details about each game, from "what makes the game work" to specific advice on planning, playing, and postprocessing the results. It is helpful to start by briefly skimming each game, making notes on how you might apply it. You'll probably find that one or two games catch your eye more than the others. This is not an accident; these are the games most likely to help you address your most pressing concerns. Go back to these games and carefully read each one in detail. When you're finished, you should have a good understanding of how these games can meet your needs and how to modify the general process described in Part One to put them in action. Along the way, by reading about how other companies have used them, you'll gain insight and inspiration about how you can apply these games.

Part Three: Tools and Templates

Part Three is designed to help you use Innovation Games by providing you with a variety of tools and templates to plan, play, and process the results of a game. It includes such things as sample invitation letters, general materials and supply checklists, advice on preparing event venues and facilitating the games, and frequently asked questions.

Forum for Readers, Game Players, and Facilitators

In addition to this book, the people who use Innovation Games have found creative ways to extend them and are sharing their experiences with others at http://www.inno...

More About the Author

Luke Hohmann is the Founder and CEO of Conteneo Inc., the leading provider of Unified Collaboration Solutions. The author of three books with long titles, Luke's playfully diverse background of life experiences has uniquely prepared him to design and produce serious games. Luke graduated magna cum laude with a B.S.E. in computer engineering and an M.S.E. in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan. In addition to data structures and artificial intelligence, he studied cognitive psychology and organizational behavior under such luminaries as Elliot Soloway, Karl Weick, and Dan Dennison. He is also a former United States National Junior Pairs Figure Skating Champion. Luke's work on using serious games to engage citizens has been covered in Businessweek and The Financial Times.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
Luke Hohmann's Innovation Games makes current paradigm obsolete.
Jose Pedro S. Pagano
This book shows creative ways to work with clients to find out what they like, don't like and want in new or updated products.
Darrin H. Kay
This book provided great games to utilize for spurring on customer demands and product development.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Muir, Alexander on December 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
I run user experience research for one of the big tech firms in Seattle. I've been using this book recently to bring some more creativity and variety to the activities we do in our studies. I've found the games are really practical, and there is just-enough material on each to get going. So I'd definitely recommend it.

However, if someone isn't already familiar with running games like this, then they may need quite a bit of practice first. Since, the actual instructions are only part of the story: setting the right mood in the room is important, as is one's manner as a facilitator. The best way of learning this is practice, and working with someone who is already good at this and learning from them. Yet, as book go, there is another book I recommend on the subject: Moderating to the Max, and the Culture Code.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Geri Winters on February 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
The process of eliciting requirements suffers from some of the same problems as the process of collecting information for expert systems. A person does not really know how much he or she knows about a subject. Each of us knows something so well, that much of what we know is not part of our conscious awareness. It is hard to bring that information to the conscious mind to share with another person.

What this tells me is when I am in the role of eliciting requirements from another person, I need many different ways of getting information, because different means will achieve different results. I can take an analytical approach (tell me about...), a physical approach (show me ...), and a creative approach (let's play a game ...). The more approaches I use, the more information I will get.

What I love about Innovation Games is that games use a part of the brain that we tend to ignore when "at work", bypassing the analytical parts and tapping into the fun, creative areas. This is a great way to find new information about the requirements of a product or service. I think it works especially well because most people I interview are expecting an analytical approach, and using games brings a fresh perspective.

Luke Hohmann has really captured a great set of games. He explains the games very clearly, and gives detailed instructions for how to organize an Innovation Games session so that everyone can make effective use of his techniques.

Thanks so much Luke for bringing us another great book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David W. Smith on November 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
With the disclaimer that I worked with Luke while some of the ideas that turned into the Games where bouncing around in his head, I have seen these games work to produce tangible results. (We used an early version of Remember the Future to develop the successful plan for our first product deployment.)

In "Blink", Malcom Gladwell makes the point that if you ask people what they want, they will tell you what they *think* they want. (When asked, nobody thought they wanted the Aeron chair. Oops.) It takes a bit of digging to get beneath the thought level, tapping into real emotional wants and needs to extract ideas for products that stand a chance of being wildly successful. The Innovation Games help with that digging, engaging players above and below the level of concious thought.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbon on May 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
It isn't the job of your customer to translate their needs into your product offerings. Of course, everyone says you just need to listen to your customer, but no one says how. In "Innovation Games" Luke Hohmann describes 12 games you can play to help you better understand your customers' needs and help you discover great products.

In part I, Luke first provides an overview for understanding and implementing innovation games. He then discusses the process from selecting the game to interpreting the results.

In part 2, twelve separate games are described which can help you understand one or more of the following:
- Unmet and/or idealized market needs
- Products and services usage and relationships
- Product and service functionality
- How to shape your product for the future

Finally, in part 3 tools and templates are provided to help you quickly start playing innovation games with your customers.

In a world where the mantras of "innovate" and "listen to your customer" prevail, Luke Hohmann gives you usable tools to help you do just that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Armond Mehrabian on September 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like this book because it's full of practical tools on discovering your customer's needs, wants, and likes. As an agile innovation consultant, I have used several techniques from this book to help customers describe their most important features (product box) and then prioritize them (buy a feature). The author emphasizes the need for thorough preparation and documentation while making the business process seem fun like a game.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to draw out customer requirements. There are even some techniques for discovering the killer features that will set your product apart from your competitors' (Give them a hot tub). I plan on using these techniques in upcoming customer engagements especially for helping them with strategic direction and product requirements gathering.

It's a must for any innovation professional.

Armond Mehrabian
Twitter: @armond_m
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