Innovation Games® are serious games designed to help solve business problems in sales, strategy, marketing and product development. There are three parties involved in a game: the trained facilitator (with support staff), the client, and the client’s customer. For example, a client who makes mobile phones might invite some of their customers to participate in Product Box. This game is open-ended. The client learns what benefits and features their customers care most about as they create a physical product box and then sell it to the other participants. Innovation Games represent a new approach to market research.
We use Innovation Games in the initial engagement for product development work with customers. The biggest difference between this use and the traditional use is that we don’t necessarily involve our client’s customers for these project kickoff events. (We also use the Games in the intended format with clients and customers.)
For example, we recently applied the “client-only” format to help a client determine the best mobile strategy to pursue. Our client has a sophisticated web product and experience. The nature of their product makes the more intimate aspects of mobile devices a natural fit. We used Remember The Future to surface business goals, motivations, success factors, and metrics. We asked the question, “What will the mobile product initiative have done for the company in November 2011?” Remember the Future put the participants in a future state, “remembering” stories about the mobile version of the product. An example story we heard was, “I got an email from a woman who told me that she just returned from vacation, and the mobile version of our product had allowed her to continue using it even though she was in Italy. She was really thankful.” Another was, “Last month’s analytics told me that 20,000 people have used the mobile app since it launched in August.”
We played this game with our client’s president, COO, CTO, and head of business development. Collating the separately crafted answers gave us a rich understanding of why they were pursuing this initiative, what the company cared about, what they individually cared about, and how we could measure success. Not surprisingly, the disparate perspectives resulted in a breadth of success factors. We also uncovered technical product features that we’ll need to build in order to be able to measure certain important aspects of success.
These client-only Innovation Games were a huge success. Our clients were enthusiastic in their participation throughout the day and eager to take their product boxes home.