On June 24-25, 2009 I had the pleasure of attending a 2 day workshop session delivered by Luke Hohmann. My workshop was on Innovation Games® and I was being trained to become a facilitator for the games. The training was by far some of the best I have received in years!!!

innovationgames1Previously, I had seen Luke deliver a couple of games and read his book. And I have tried, with good success, to apply many of his techniques. However, like all busy people one thing after another had crowded Innovation Games® out of my head and I was no longer using them as actively. The reason for this is simple: too many things to do, a busy schedule, time for mastery and lack of a deep appreciation for the techniques. So, my current thought is, Innovation Games are subtle, powerful and really require hard work to master and apply well. Innovation Games now has my full attention and I am actively applying them.

Luke is a Grand Master Facilitator. I have facilitated many meetings and discussion around product development and consider myself a good facilitator. After the 1st morning of training on day one, my notebook was filled with quickly scribbled thoughts. Luke’s style, breadth and depth of applied experience as a facilitator were staggering. What could be learned by using the games became so much more apparent as the workshop progressed. When Innovation Games® are applied well many “hard to discover things” are teased to the surface through subtle artful facilitation and collaborative interaction. With trained observers these games can be used to capture powerful ideas for evolving products.

derek-wade-making-changesThe workshop was a double success because many of my peers where there from the Scrum Alliance. We were all being trained to become Innovation Games certified facilitators. Our days were filled with Luke artfully facilitating numerous games. Most people would not notice the facilitator’s presence; however, because all of my classmates are professional trainers, coaches, facilitators we paid close attention. After each game we ran a retrospect and review of the numerous techniques being demonstrated. All of us were able to personally relate to numerous experiences we have had and could immediately see applications to improve our work.

Summary:

Master of the these games is aquired through application. I would encouarge anyone to try applying them and see what can be learned.

When the games are delivered by a skilled practioner they become a powerful set of techniques for figuring out product development needs. In Scrum the role of the Product Owner is well defined facing into the team. However, there is little to no help directly from Scrum for figuring out what to build. Generally, building the right thing is easy if we know what the right thing is. Innovation games are serious tools for determining what the right product should be.

It is not often that my head is left reeling from two days of intensive training. I am used to cramming information but, Luke’s training challenged my head in fundamental ways. These challenges caused me to reflect on how I was conceptualizing approaches to product development. My Big Thanks is too Luke and my classmates for making this possible. We make each other better through our collaborative interaction and Luke has raised the bar for me on what great facilitation can look like!

A BIG THANK YOU TO LUKE!