Innovation Games for Process Optimization

First time I have been using Innovation Games was about 6 years ago for product innovation and in the mean time I have been experimenting with different games for different purposes but always in the atmosphere of product design & implementation with and without customers, with and without end users… different settings, different games but always fun and productive!

Due to the fact that I like to experiment I also started using the same techniques for the larger retrospectives or post-mortems and related process improvement actions and that is exactly what I want to line out here for others to give it a try.

Goal of the workshop: align 2 different processes which are managed by 2 different teams but imposed on a entire organization of +100 people.

Background: I can’t reveal that much but it is about having different clans, having politics after acquiring different companies and related integration issues. In other words it is a sensitive topic! Do you need more?

Workshop layout and walk through

Step 1 is to allow the people to provide their knowledge about what is existing so that current information gets shared and to make sure both teams understand each others process.

Get a couple of ugly buildings out of your backpack and let each team choose which one they want to use to represent their process, hang those pictures on the left side of a huge piece of brown paper. Explain to the teams that they can explain their process as good as possible within 30mins (use hour glasses like these ones) while the other team is quitely listening, then there is 10min questioning time and facilitate this right so that it is indeed clarifying questioning and not anything else, it should reviel extra information. Once the information is shared the team not in charge of the process/building has to add attributes of the process onto the brown paper and explain to the team managing the process how they understood things worked.

Result:

ugly current

Step 2 is to get people out of today’s world and JOINTLY come up with idea’s about a single, unified process.

So here we start, bringing out a nice picture of a very very beautifull island and hanging this at the right end of the brown paper chain. While doing that explaining to the participants that they should stop thinking about where they are today, start dreaming of being on that beautifull island somewhere in the far future (end of 2012 in this case) and celebrating the succesful implementation of their new process. What made it a succes? Why is this new process worth a huge celebration?

Result:

nice island

Step 3 is to find alignment on things that are actually hampering us to get to a better process.

We had the current ugly building situation on the left, we have the nice looking island on the right and now in the middle we start drawing watter as an extention of the nice looking island, bring out a speed boat picture and hang it in the watter while explaining that the boat is us as a team and that apparently we would like to be on the island but things are holding us back, there are anchors hanging out of our boat keeping us from moving forward to the island. After which we ask all members to add post-its with the things they think are keeping us from moving forward… After this first part we ask the entire group to combine the separate items into groups using anchor cutted papers and name the anchors.

Result:

speedboat

Step 4 is to really define action items as one team and follow up on them.

Once all information is hanging on a huge wall it seems that people already start to relate more to each other and are indeed energized to move forward towards a better process but they are still a bit lost… It’s too much to handle! So here we start to explain that it is not the purpose to remove all anchors at once but one by one, the less anchors are hanging out of the boat the faster we’ll go, isn’t it? So we did some dot-voting on the anchors and at the end defined 4 actions to remove 3 anchors with owners, supporters and estimated timings. The ball was rolling…

What do I love workshops like this where people leave energized, smiling and with a plan to move forward and seriously improve their work life.

So what is the morale here? Start learning what ever you can about innovation games (see our training agenda) and use them in every way or combination you think is usefull, people will like it and business will improve!

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Author:Jurgen De Smet

@JurgenLACoach - in/jurgendesmet

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