I have a soft spot for group dynamic. Finding ways to help groups work better, make people think in new ways … that’s a lot of fun. I have worked quite a bit with teenagers and young adults in different settings, trying to get them to think about common problems in new ways. I have tried to bring that knowledge and that energy to my workplace, but it’s been harder than I thought.
When I found “Gamestorming” by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, James Macanufo (O’Reilly Media) I had great hopes. It starts with the basic theory of animation games, introduces some basic tools, some basic games and provides a large range of games that can be used in an enterprise. It made me think, it made me review the basics, it motivated me to try new things. Goal achieved.
Despite that, it could be better. It could go further. It could be bolder, be further out of the proverbial box. Maybe the enterprise is just not ready for that. Just an example:
A brainstorming is much more about the storm than about the brain. It’s a technique that creates chaos to shut down our intellect and get our creativity flowing. Without the chaos, a brainstorming just another session where we try to generate new ideas and fail. The node generation section (chap. 2, section 4, page 19) goes just the other way, by explaining how to try to put order right from the start, proposing people to write notes silently on post-it. Of course, it’s closer to what we are used to, easier to bring to a group not used to working outside of its confidence zone. Yes, this technique can be useful in certain situations, but no, it is not the canonical example of a node generation exercise.
That being said, I think that my criticism is more toward the enterprise world than toward the book. My experience of the kind of games presented in “Gamestorming” is by doing them in associations, where people much more ready to try new things, to push boundaries further. I’ll keep thinking on how I can bring that to my workplace …