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Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers [Paperback]

Dave Gray , Sunni Brown , James Macanufo
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 2 2010

Great things don't happen in a vacuum. But creating an environment for creative thinking and innovation can be a daunting challenge. How can you make it happen at your company? The answer may surprise you: gamestorming.

This book includes more than 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies. The authors have identified tools and techniques from some of the world's most innovative professionals, whose teams collaborate and make great things happen. This book is the result: a unique collection of games that encourage engagement and creativity while bringing more structure and clarity to the workplace. Find out why -- and how -- with Gamestorming.

  • Overcome conflict and increase engagement with team-oriented games
  • Improve collaboration and communication in cross-disciplinary teams with visual-thinking techniques
  • Improve understanding by role-playing customer and user experiences
  • Generate better ideas and more of them, faster than ever before
  • Shorten meetings and make them more productive
  • Simulate and explore complex systems, interactions, and dynamics
  • Identify a problem's root cause, and find the paths that point toward a solution

Frequently Bought Together

Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers + Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity + Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
Price For All Three: CDN$ 68.58

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Product Description

About the Author

Dave Gray, SVP Strategy, Dachis Group, is an author and management consultant who works with the world's leading companies to develop and execute winning strategies. His previous book, Gamestorming (O'Reilly), has sold more than 50,000 copies and has been translated into 14 languages.

Sunni Brown, M.P.A., is Owner of BrightSpot Info Design, a company specializing in visual thinking to support organizational and group success. Sunni was trained in graphic facilitation at The Grove Consultants International, a San Francisco-based company that pioneered the use of visuals in meetings and group processes. She is currently an Associate of The Grove, a freelance consultant for XPlane - the visual thinking company - and an Associate of Alphachimp Studios. She is also co-Founder of VizThink Austin, currently the largest visual thinking community in the United States. Sunni presents regularly on the topics of graphic facilitation, graphic recording and visual thinking. She is also a contributing researcher for Nancy Duarte's upcoming book on storytelling and presentations. Sunni holds Bachelor's degrees in Journalism and Linguistics and a Master's in Public Affairs from the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs. She lives in Austin, TX.

James Macanufo: As a consultant at XPLANE, James helps largetechnology and government clients develop their vision, strategy andcommunication plans. He actively obsessed with understanding whatthings are, the way they work, and why they matter. He is also anactive gamer and occasional inventor of card games.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars getting out of the box Sept. 7 2010
Format:Paperback
I don't know about you but for me every meeting, presentation or workshop is an opportunity to get myself and participants to think outside of the box. Over the years I have collected many ways to do this but nothing I have put together compares to this book. It's all here, everything you ever wanted to know about getting people to think in a different way. Best of all it's laid out in a way that makes it easy to follow, the sections make finding ideas easy and the instructions are clear and simple to interpret.

I really loved that some of my favorite engagement exercises were included. It's always validating to see the things you do replicated in print. What I loved even more were the ideas that were new to me. Lots of new openings, processes and closing to try out.

I'd recommend this to anyone who leads meeting, conferences, workshop or teaches. The concepts are easy to adapt into any of these environments. I'm also finding that I can use some of the exercises on my own, as a way to help myself see things a bit differently. All in all one of the best book investments I've made this year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars have fun while creating great things July 26 2011
By mko TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
If you want to came up with something you usually have two options. Either you go with some kind of process (this way is usually good one if you want to have your back covered) or you go with unconventional methods (if you have enough money to cover your expenses in case of failure). The second approach is what Gamestorming is all about. First of all, you get the explanation of what playing game is all about. This is very important part, because it will give you arguments when it comes to convince other people to play a little bit instead of just 'inventing' things through regular process of 'thinking'. It might be hard work to convince your co-workers to use this way of solving issues. Many people find 'playing games' a perfect example of wasting the time. That's why it is very good idea to show how playing games makes your brain work different way. After explaining the concept of gamestorming authors go through various examples of games that might help you solve your problems. The collection of games is really impressive. There are almost 100 different games presented within the book. Games are divided into sections that help you solve particular issues. Opening games help you produce ideas quickly, exploring games help you go through the ideas you came up with, closing games help you to get into the end of the innovation process. Reading the book really is fun, however, mind one thing. Not everybody likes to play. If your colleagues do not like to play RPGs, they don't know what RTS is, and board games are just a mean of wasting time, gamestorming is probably not good for you. I agree that pushing people into 'another worlds', with different rules might be good way of finding what hasn't been found yet, however ' not everybody is ready for that. Not everybody likes to play. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic July 8 2013
By Allan TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're going to use a highlighter, you may as well just colour the entire book yellow. So dense with ideas, you can spend a week thinking about the content of just one page. Written in a way that is neither too simplified, or too complex. Very easy to follow & implement. Author describes ideas that were just vague assumptions in a concrete, tangible way that's pretty impressive.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul," -- Proverbs 13:9 (NKJV)

When I meet entrepreneurs, I find that most of them lack an understanding of creative processes and tools that they might use to create superior solutions. Almost all of them are too reluctant to involve other people, denying themselves access to deep reservoirs of knowledge, experience, and inspiration.

I think that Gamestorming will be an invaluable resource to those who want to accomplish more . . . but are unsure how to organize their efforts. While the book claims to be aimed at both advanced game practitioners and newbies, I think the book fits the newbie group much better than those with deep game experience and skill.

While the book deals with a lot of different conceptual issues, it's surprisingly weak on drawing on very large communities for insights . . . of the sort that various Web 2.0 technologies seek to engage. That's okay. An innovator can find information about such methods elsewhere.

I intend to tell my entrepreneurial students about this book. I'm sure it will help them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  86 reviews
85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Game On March 10 2011
By Ken Rider - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The authors deserve credit for pulling the content of this book together and organizing it in a way that is inviting and intuitive to read and browse. It's all about using games to help groups of people think about and address business challenges in creative ways. Although it has 8 chapters, Gamestorming really divides into two major sections: (1) an introductory set of chapters that define what games are, their key characteristics and skills for effective play and (2) an expansive collection of about 90 games, each with rules and strategy explained in one to three pages of text. The book concludes with a short example of how to put games to practical use.

PROS: Gamestorming is an engaging, one-of-a-kind resource for using games in business settings. The introduction and early chapters are well geared to those without much gaming background and do a good job explaining how games can be used to help groups define problems, clarify thinking, generate ideas and ID next steps. There is even a small section with simple drawing tips for illustrating ideas...a nice addition. The diverse selection of games, which appropriately fills more than three-quarters of the book, is applicable to a range of situations. Think of it like a collection of "recipes" for games, which good facilitators can follow exactly or adapt to their own needs. Purely as an idea book for business games, it would rate at least a "4" but there are a few things that make it less useful than it probably could be for some audiences.

CONS: The book is ambitiously written for "the novice and the experienced practitioner alike," but appealing to everyone can be tough. Novice facilitators will like the intro but may find the later sections somewhat lite on game strategy. It's just hard in a few paragraphs to fully explain each game's flow or give newcomers much in the way of tips or trouble shooting to make a confident go of it. A beefed-up focus on "how to" might have been better for this group (those looking for a primer on facilitation may want to check out Kaner's "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making"). By contrast, seasoned facilitators might want more nuance in other areas, like how to organize the rich info games generate for later use, so it isn't reduced to a bunch of meaningless sound bites -- a challenge with any brainstorming session. Finally, to round out its practical application, a few more examples or links showing how games can be used to solve real-life problems would help (see Daniel Hoang's Amazon review of Gamestorming, for several good online links).
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A play book for work and life Aug. 3 2010
By C. Avampato - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For several weeks, I've been combing my bookshelves for activities to incorporate into my LIM College class on social media marketing. I wanted games to drive home the information in unconventional, interactive ways. I went to my theatre books, my business books, and my books filled with writing exercises. Nothing seemed quite right. And then I found Gamestorming. It felt like a gift out of the sky. My anxiety about the class diminished a bit more with every page.

Gamestorming details games that engage groups, both large and small, in learning and discovery. They work in corporations and in schools, and I'd like to add that they are a valuable tool for navigating just about any decision and complication in life. I found myself noting in nearly every margin how to use each game. The clear, concise description, depictions, and plan for each took a great deal of thought and care from the authors.

The metaphor of life as a game is well worked over. The trouble with the game of life is that there are no rules. You don't make them and neither does anyone else. They change from moment to moment, and the rule that seemed to work today may never be useful again. We are forced in every situation to think on our feet. Gamestorming gives us more confidence and empowers us to take our futures in our own hands.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Building a Shared Language of Effective Meeting Strategies (and more) Oct. 3 2010
By Murray Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In their book, Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo have researched and codified a number of strategies to help people generate new ideas, work through them, and act on them. But in making this book, the authors have done more than create a valuable reference of approaches for idea generation and decision-making: they've also begun to create a shared language that we can all make use of.

Rather than going into the games cold, they begin by placing them in the context of a larger framework, allowing the reader to better understand how each game could best suit their situations and mix and match with each other.

Those who've read Gang of Four patterns in the programming world, have dabbled with various design pattern libraries, or are familiar with other collections taking the approach of Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language" may find the format recognizable. As they never mention a pattern approach, I'm not sure if the authors intended it that way, but the book is structured in a very similar fashion: naming each game, explaining the basic layout of how it works, and when to apply it.

As with the other pattern-related books, the authors do not claim to know it all, and in fact expect others to discover more patterns -- in this case, the games -- and for the ones they mention to be refined over time. Also similar to the pattern-based approaches, they encourage the reader to use the ones they feel will best fit together for what they need to accomplish, rather than use them in very prescriptive ways.

In naming each game and using a pattern-like structure to explain them, it not only makes it easy to read each individual game, but also helps codify them -- packaging them up into a shorthand that people came refer to and apply quickly with shared understanding.

The authors mention using the games in 'knowledge work' situations, but I feel that it is really applicable to any industry. The things that they are really talking about address real LEADERSHIP, rather than industrial-age, control-focused management approaches that apply less and less to even manufacturing industries today. (I find a lot of ideas in the book reflecting the organizational learning approaches advocated by Senge and Mintzberg.)

You'll find the likely-used-too-often SWOT method in this book, and probably many more that you're already familiar with. But like me, I bet you'll read a few more that you'll be thinking about applying in a future meeting, project, or even when you're stuck for ideas working on your own.

Read the first 75 pages to start, and look through the rest of the games as you can, and keep it nearby as reference for your next strategy session.
43 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Activites for Groups, would be a better title Aug. 1 2010
By C. Hlas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Gamestorming" seemed to be chosen as the title of this book because the authors encourage the use of games for the purpose of "brainstorming" (i.e., generating ideas). I find this to be a noble goal because elements of games are underutilized in realms of business, education, etc. However...

Calling the activities presented in the book "games" stretches any definition of the word (which they never define, nor do they formally define gamestorming). The activities that are presented do have rules (maybe "directions" would have been a better word), but lack an objective/goal to make them actual games. For example, "To let leadership understand and be responsive to any and all questions around the topic" (p. 181) is an example of a goal of one of the games in the book. I understand that games are difficult to define, but that goal does not sound like the goal of a game, nor does it sound very fun.

That said, the activity in question ("Help Me Understand") is one that I plan on trying during my first day of class this semester. So if you can get beyond the nomenclature you will find a book with interesting activities for organizing meetings or other groups of people.

Final nit-pick. The book indicates the virtues of iteration in many examples, but never includes iteration as an important attribute of the "games" they create.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gamechanger July 27 2010
By A. Osterwalder - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With Gamestorming Dave, Sunni, and James created one of the most valuable and applicable collection of tools and techniques for organizational design that I have ever come across. The "games" outlined in the book help you make ideas more tangible and meetings more productive, notably through visual techniques. Gamestorming is a window into the future of how groups will work.

There is no way around this book if you are serious about making innovation and change happen in your organization.
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