Lesson in Gamestorming

It wasn’t until the very last session of SXSW Interactive that I found my ah-ha moment, in a session called ‘Gamestorming’.

Panelists and Gamestorming co-authors Dave Gray, James Macanufo and Sunni Brown stuck out from other presenters. They were excited – I mean super excited. And they caught my attention right off the bat through their explanation of a game we were about to play to illustrate different ways to brainstorm.

Encouraging a culture of innovation and collaboration, Gangplank Anchors and members alike often find themselves pulled into endless amounts of brainstorming sessions. We like to talk, bounce ideas off each other and problem-solve. However, these sessions often lack focus, or don’t play to the strengths of those with different creative thought processes.

As I continue to grow in my Director of Operations role, I’m beginning to lead more brainstorming and value-setting sessions. I can find these meetings intimidating and honestly, boring. After walking out of ‘Gamestorming’, I decided it was time to breathe new life into my meeting planning and share it with others around me.

Recently, Anchors participated in a brainstorming session about our upcoming Startup Weekend. With a room full of strong personalities, I knew it was important to go in with a goal, as well as iron clad time management plan.

I started out by stating the goal of the session, and then led off with two fire-starter questions (Page 17). I then explained the parameters of the game, 3-12-3 (Page 78). Participants would have 3-minutes to respond to the fire-starters on sticky notes (artifacts), which we then divided into groups. Participants were divided into pairs, assigned a group and given 12-minutes to create solutions for the sticky notes they were given. At the end, we spent 3-minutes presenting the results.

The time constraints and use of sticky notes as artifacts worked very well. We had great discussion and solid suggestions on how to improve the event.

The second part of the session did not go as planned. Instead of working towards our original goal, we determined that we weren’t prepared to move forward and instead set a new goal based on the results of the first game. Though it wasn’t the original intention, if we hadn’t employed Gamestorming techniques, we may have never reached that conclusion.

As someone that prefers to facilitate and summarize, Gamestorming has been tremendously successful for me. It allows me to utilize my organizational strengths, while encouraging creativity and innovation among session participants.

Now I can’t wait for the next meeting =)

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