I had the pleasure of reviewing an early copy of Luke Hohmann's upcoming book, Innovation Games.
What a delightful surprise to find it filled with actual good ideas, well explained.
Each of the games is actually an activity that you can facilitate with a group of people, such as users or customers, or potential customers. The activities largely fit into a two hour time slot, which makes them suitable for ideation sessions or focus group types of environments. Although the games are certainly not limited to that.
The games are about uncovering new product ideas, ways to improve an existing product, and similar topics. These are the the projects where you hope the stars will align for you and your client, and you pull out all your best tricks to make it happen.
While the problems addressed are familiar, the activities present a good slant on an old problem. For example, Speed Boat uses anchors holding back a boat as a metaphor for barriers to increased use or adoption.
These kinds of activities sound simple enough, but the trick is always in using them effectively. I found Luke's instructions clear and useful, and he provides a number of his "secret tips" that could save you learning things the hard way. He also talks about the debrief process, a critical step in anything of this nature.
If you are trying to get some innovative thinking going, this would be an excellent place to start. For the individual who is new to facilitation, or has no budget for expert help, Luke provides very clear guidance on what is needed, whether it is flip-charts or index cards, and how the flow of things should work.
For those of you who are already skilled facilitators, a few of the games may seem familiar. For example, the "Me and My Shadow" game is observational shadowing of someone in a specific role, or a user. This is something I'm personally very familiar with. "Remembering the Future" may be also have some familiar DNA for the experienced facilitator. Having said that, I'd be surprised if you didn't get at least one, and more likely several new techniques from this book. And it is often nice to see someone else's slant and enhancements on an old favorite.
So, I know this is a pretty shameless plug, and I've never actually met Luke -- we've just exchanged e-mails. So it's just my enthusiasm for the content. I just thought the book was really practical and useful, (unlike so many business books these days). Publication is slated for September, but you can pre-order.