Saturday, December 10, 2005

XPDAY5 - Getting Customers to Know Themselves

In the same session on "Getting to know your customer" mentioned in my previous post, Steve and Andy went on to describe Innovation Games. The goal of these games is to get your customer to think about their problems in a different way, and to come up with new innovative ideas on how to tackle them.

Interestingly, just talking to customers about what they want isn't always adequate. Often customers do not know what they want and end up telling you what they think you want to hear. I think this could be related to the three basic assumptions challenged by the Cynefin sense making framework (see my previous post). If our customers think that we expect them to be rational, intent-driven and ordered then they will answer our questions in kind.

By game play people are let of the hook. They do not need to pretend to be rational. They are free to get in touch with themselves and the true nature of their problem, after all it's just a game.

One of the games is called Product Box. Customers are encouraged to decorate a box containing the "product". The decoration should highlight the most exciting and sellabe features. The idea is to make the product appealing. Another game is called Speed Boat. Here customers are encouraged to draw a spead boat which is tied to things that are holding it back, things that are stopping them speeding ahead in their work.

These games are similar to the domestic probes used by Bill Gaver and fit in well with the Cynefin probe-sense-respond appoach.

Here is a link to more Innovation Games:

The combination of Cynefin sense making, Innovation Games and Bill Gaver's Ludic Technologies really made XPDay for me. I'll never look at innovation and product ideas in the same way again.

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