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Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rule-breakers, and Changemakers

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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

290 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 7, 2010

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Dave Gray

6 books271 followers

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5 stars
2,445 (36%)
4 stars
2,204 (33%)
3 stars
1,382 (20%)
2 stars
408 (6%)
1 star
209 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 183 reviews
88 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2011
Has a laundry list of useful brainstorming patterns.

Book lacks real life examples of when things have worked, have not worked. Lacks any evidence that this work any better than anything else. Difficult to read as it's very dry. Definitely feels like some sections were added as fillers.

Treat as reference for the patterns.

Profile Image for Isadora Wagner.
147 reviews19 followers
June 10, 2012
Gamestorming is disappointing. In its current version, it reads like management porn, not the Jesus meet Bible thought-provoking game changer it sets out to be. Chapters 1 and 2 are fair, but could go deeper into the theory and science behind games; for example, what makes games work? why does the propensity or instinct to play games seem so universal across races and cultures? what are essential 'game structures' and how can these be applied to the sorts of work scenarios that the authors, Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo, describe? what are some historical examples of how games have been used in non-traditional ways, such as in the military, science, arts, and mathematics, to lead to breakthroughs? Chapter 3 barely skims the surface of visual communication, as it promises to do. Chapters 4-6 are a total bore for all but the most intrepidly desperate of managers: 200 pages of how-to instructions for 80 touchy-feely team activities, complete with post-it note and flip-chart locations and pictures. I mean...seriously? Only the perversely naked would go through them all, like a badly thumbed and crinkled old Playboy--which has more value. One would be better off--one would be better off doing a lot of things. I lost interest.
Profile Image for Nathanael Coyne.
157 reviews48 followers
April 10, 2016
"A great plan can't guarantee a great outcome, but it will help lay down the fundamentals from which you can adapt". This quote from the book relating to the "7Ps Framework" applies to the entire book. Try and apply these "games" verbatim and it'll probably feel contrived with too much focus on process and not enough on the outcome. Keep that in mind while you read this book otherwise you'll go through it thinking "I can't play this game with my co-workers, they'll laugh at me!". In fact it's probably a good idea if you never refer to these techniques as games or gamestorming. Some fantastic ideas and concepts in here that will surely help you harness the full creative power of even the most withdrawn and quiet team ... if you've got the motivation to persist. You'll probably already be familiar with terms like bodystorming, card sorting, affinity diagrams etc but I'd say 80% of these techniques were new to me.
Profile Image for Todd Sattersten.
19 reviews9 followers
September 27, 2010
Gamestorming is a book about a problem you didn't know you had and a solution that you've unknowingly used since childhood.

When problems have a clear start point and end point, the steps between A and B are very clear. If you need to get groceries, a check of the pantry, writing a list and a trip to the market gets you to your end goal.

But, what if the end goal isn't clear? What if there are a range of possibilities? We face these sorts of problems every day and often try to use the same A to B approach without much success.

Enter Gamestorming. Authors Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo believe we need to use more play in these difficult to define situations. Games as activities can make apparent a variety of possible paths towards the fuzzy goal. The defined space, simple rules, and unpredictable outcomes of games make them ideal for this sort of work. Stringing together a series of different games moves us closer a solution. As the authors say:

"Processes are rule-heavy. They prescribe a narrow range of activities and prohibit everything else. Games, on the other hand, are rule-light. In a game, anything not forbidden is permitted."

The book provides over 80 games that can be used in generate ideas, explore ideas, and decide which idea move us closer. The book also describes the qualities games have so that readers can develop their own games to match the situation. Active readers of the creativity genre will see games inspired by Thinkertoys, Six Thinking Hats and brainwriting as well as the authors' commentary on what makes the versions of these games particularly effective.

The first step is understanding many problems lack a clear path to the solution. The second step is understanding you need to use a different set of tools. Gamestorming helps with both.
Profile Image for Leisa.
11 reviews168 followers
November 25, 2010
I was a little cynical about a book with this many 'games' in it, and I don't know many people who would be brave enough to pitch a SWOT analysis as a game but, despite that, I have plenty of dog eared pages with activities I'll definitely be trying in the future. A great resource for anyone who regularly facilitates workshops (or who should be!)
Profile Image for Adrian Howard.
51 reviews54 followers
September 9, 2017
If you facilitate workshops & meetings you should read this book. While the compilation of techniques is great, the biggest take away for me on a second reading is the framework and pattern-library-ish approach to that compilation. I'm certainly going to be re-thinking some of the work that I do in that context. Recommended.
Profile Image for Joseph Newell.
60 reviews6 followers
March 9, 2019
The best part of Gamestorming for me was the discussions of the principles behind "games." Just as they focus on the opening and closing exercises and how important they are, Gamestorming is most useful when viewed as an opener or a closer. The principles contained inside are useful for anyone looking to bring structure into their activities but left so vague that it is difficult to understand exactly how to put them into practice. They are most useful when taken as a part of the knowledge curve, and not a one-stop shop.

I found analyzing popular "games" in the business world like Design Sprints, Lightning Decision Jams, SWOT analysis, and Wardley Maps against the principles discussed to be very helpful to diagnose how things work and understand how to take them apart and play with them in various contexts.
Profile Image for Atif Shaikh.
115 reviews
June 25, 2018
great collection of collaborative games, structure could be improved. should have had a scenario based game groupings instead of an inventory style listing. a reference book to master over the years
Profile Image for Marcus Kazmierczak.
97 reviews7 followers
December 5, 2018
The book is full of useful and practical information to help businesses from coming up with ideas, exploring options, to shipping products and getting to done.

The main approach of Gamestorming is framing the meetings and exercises as games, with the rules spelled out, for example the number of players, objective of the game, and how the game is played. This is kinda brilliant since it gives a formal structure to a meeting without being too formal, plus it gets all participants informed on goals and process of a meeting ahead of time.

I got the Kindle edition of the book, which I think the physical copy would be better. The book is not that great to just sit down and read, since after the intro it's a list of different games on how to achieve an objective. With the physical copy so when you're ready to use the techniques you could flip through and see which ones you want to try.
Profile Image for Sebastian Gebski.
920 reviews784 followers
November 14, 2015
My original impression (before I've actually started reading) was - wow, what a great idea - a book about visual communication & ideation, how cool is that? Now I have the answer - far less cool than it could have been. Sadly, the 'games' presented in this book are extremely simple & ... obvious. Just to illustrate this - the most advance of them is the SWOT analysis. Yessss. In other words - a smart individual with a basic ability of abstract / model thinking (like an engineer) won't benefit from this book at all. Maybe some others would.

Disappointment. I'd give 1 star, but these techniques are quite well described & elaborated, so if someone finds them new & englightening - (s)he'll truly benefit from the content.
Profile Image for Fred Rose.
508 reviews14 followers
March 30, 2012
This is a terrific book for ideas and techniques for running innovation sessions. I've competed in games like this my whole life, and know from years of coaching and mentoring how useful games can be as a way to structure problems, think about solutions and get people directed. This book has a few short chapters on the meta-strcuture of games and challenges, and theok to skim to see how your own many, many actual games, with details on when to use them and how. Even if you don't do these kinds of things yourself, it's a good book to see how your own personal brainstorming can improve.
Profile Image for Hussain Al-ahmed.
37 reviews3 followers
September 28, 2016
The start of the book is well structured where it explains the concept of gamification at work and how meetings can be more effective if they are more interactive. It also explains the game theory and how to open and close a game.

The second part of the book was rather dull because it shows the games but you can't really apply them while reading. If the book is split to 2 books, it would give better experience to the reader. The first, elaborates more on the concept and the research behind the theory, and the second should be a practical guide with all the tools and techniques.
Profile Image for Derek Neighbors.
236 reviews26 followers
December 14, 2013
Very similar to the Agile Retrospectives book by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby. This book has a lot more activities and goes into some more detail on the theory of using games to get people interacting in meaningful ways. Several people around Gangplank have been using the games and are raving about them. I plan on using a few during a consulting engagement coming up. Great stuff.
October 21, 2016
Gamestorming is an incredibly useful resource. But the instructions and timing of the games need some adjustment in practise. Like any resource, use the bits that work for you and adapt. We used to run a fortnightly collaboration club at work where we tried out a game and reflected on how and when it would be most useful.
Profile Image for Nuno Pereira.
9 reviews2 followers
July 2, 2020
Although I give this book a 3 star review it is still a great book and if you are new to gamestorming this is a must read. This is a book that is 10 years old and I've done a lot of this games in the past. Therefore I had to give it based on my experience reading it in 2020.
Profile Image for Abhishek Shekhar.
88 reviews7 followers
June 10, 2016
The book presents way to approach work/projects as games. Further the book provides so many games that can be used by leaders / HR to involve teams in different activities.
Profile Image for Alphabooks.
5 reviews5 followers
May 26, 2020
Cuốn sách chiến thuật cho những người ưa sáng tạo, thích phá vỡ quy tắc và luôn tìm kiếm sự thay đổi

Những điều vĩ đại không tách biệt với thế giới xung quanh. Tuy nhiên, việc tạo ra một môi trường cho tư duy sáng tạo và đổi mới có thể là một thách thức khó khăn.

⁉️ Làm thế nào để bạn có thể biến nó thành hiện thực ở công ty mình? Câu trả lời có thể làm bạn ngạc nhiên: 𝗴𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴.

#Gamestorming là quá trình tạo ra các thế giới đặc biệt để khám phá và xem xét những thử thách kinh doanh, nâng cao tinh thần hợp tác và tạo ra những hiểu biết mới về cách thức thế giới vận hành cùng những khả năng mà chúng ta có thể tìm thấy ở đó.

Các thế giới trò chơi là những thực tế có thể thay thế – các vũ trụ song song mà chúng ta có thể tạo dựng và khám phá, chỉ bị giới hạn bởi chính khả năng tưởng tượng của chúng ta. Một trò chơi có thể được thiết kế tỉ mỉ trước hoặc kết hợp ngay lập tức với những vật liệu có sẵn. Có vô vàn trò chơi khả thi cũng như thế giới tiềm năng. Bằng cách tưởng tượng, tạo lập và khám phá những thế giới này, bạn sẽ mở cánh cửa dẫn đến #cách_tư_duy_đột_phá cũng như #đổi_mới thực sự.

Cuốn sách Game Kích Não có gì đặc biệt?

Cuốn sách bao gồm hơn 80 trò chơi giúp bạn vượt qua các rào cản, giao tiếp tốt hơn và hình thành nên những ý tưởng, kiến thức cùng chiến lược mới. Các tác giả đã xác định được những công cụ và kỹ thuật của một vài chuyên gia sáng tạo nhất trên thế giới; những người đã cùng đội ngũ của mình phối hợp và biến nhiều ý tưởng tuyệt vời thành hiện thực. Nhằm:

- Vượt qua những mâu thuẫn và tăng cường sự tham gia của người chơi bằng các trò chơi theo nhóm
- Nâng cao phối hợp và giao tiếp bằng các kỹ thuật tư duy bằng hình ảnh
- Nâng cao hiểu biết bằng việc đóng vai khách hàng và mô phỏng các trải nghiệm người hình thành nhiều ý tưởng tốt hơn – nhanh hơn so với trước đây
- Rút ngắn thời gian họp và cải thiện năng suất
- Mô phỏng và khám phá các hệ thống, tương tác cùng động lực phức tạp
- Xác định nguyên nhân gốc rễ của một vấn đề và tìm hướng giải quyết

Việc tổ chức cuộc họp theo dạng trò chơi #gamestorming mang lại không khí cởi mở, thoải mái cho người tham gia, giúp họ có nhiều không gian sáng tạo và trao đổi ý tưởng với nhau, từ đó cải thiện sự gắn kết trong nhóm và tăng hiệu quả làm việc.

#Gamestroming chính là công cụ giúp bạn tạo lên một đội ngũ sáng tạo chưa từng có.
35 reviews3 followers
April 18, 2019
From time to time, I need to organise sessions with a group of people in which you need to take them to a place that is unclear for themselves and in most of the the cases equally unclear to myself. That is something that people feel really uncomfortable about. One of the ways to get a group of people beyond such a resistance point, is by using what I call a ‘workshop’.
This is the point where this book fits in perfectly. The book explains in the beginning chapters beautifully how the structure of moving a team from one know place to another less know place works. It then gives in the following chapters a ton of ‘games’ that you can use to construct a journey that might work for your group.
I love this book and wisheid I had found it earlier in my consulting practice.
Profile Image for Robert Bogue.
Author 17 books10 followers
December 22, 2020
How do you write a review of a dictionary? That’s the question that came to mind as I was trying to write this review. Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers is sort of a dictionary, but instead of words, it’s designed to provide definition to the games we play when we’re working to solve hard problems. It’s been in my library for some time now, but other than flipping through it from time to time, I had never really made my way through it. That’s likely for the same reason most people don’t read the dictionary cover to cover: you just don’t process the information that way.

Read more
Profile Image for Tùng Lâm Phạm.
87 reviews12 followers
January 23, 2023
Các tác giả đã cung cấp những nguyên lý cơ bản về tư duy trò chơi trong quản trị và giải quyết vấn đề, cùng bộ sưu tập hơn 80 game để bạn có thể áp dụng vào đội nhóm của mình. Tuy nhiên, không phải game nào cũng dễ áp dụng và phù hợp với doanh nghiệp Việt Nam, mặc dù bản thân tôi cùng team của mình cũng thường xuyên dùng LeanCoffee, WorldCoffee, OpenSpace,... Một điểm đáng tiếc nữa, như nhiều sách khác do AlphaBooks mua bản quyền, chất lượng chuyển ngữ thực sự rất tệ, đặc biệt nhiều đoạn trong cuốn sách này khiến tôi có cảm giác đang xem Google Translate... Hy vọng trong các lần tái bản sắp tới, và cả với những cuốn sách sắp xuất bản, phía AlphaBooks sẽ làm tốt hơn ở khâu dịch thuật.
7 reviews
June 26, 2017
The book starts with a short but great opening about gamestorming and how it is a method for exploration and discovery of unpredictable, breakthrough ideas. The authors give us some pretty inspirational foundational aspects of gamestorming and its importance in the "age of discovery".

The remaining vast majority of the book is a list of games that teams can play to generate, categorize and prioritize new ideas. Some games are interesting but too many are similar to each others. It would have been nice to organize them by broader patterns or mechanisms instead of organizing them loosely in three big sections called "opening", "exploring" and "closing" games. The book would also have benefited from adding a few examples of gamestorming sessions with more detailed about how interactions usually go with participants, what kind of ideas were generated, etc.

Although the long lists of games makes the book quite dry to read from cover to cover, it remains a good introduction to gamestorming and a useful list of recipes and building blocks before building your owns games.
December 26, 2017
Nice, well-written book with lots of interesting content.

The book presents a series of "games" that can be done to solve certain issues, such as prioritizing tasks, getting input and feedback from groups, starting or closing discussions, brainstorming and many more.

Sadly, I found it far too "business-oriented" for me. I mostly work alone in a creative field (game development) and a lot of those felt like they were clearly designed for office workers or large groups. I felt it wasn't for "Innovators, Rulebreakers and Changemakers" so much as for managers, plain and simple.
Profile Image for Ashraf Bashir.
207 reviews100 followers
July 24, 2018
The book content is very good, containing many meeting facilitation techniques and frameworks. It is a great source of information for anyone in leadership or management. Why not 4 stars? The main reason of scoring it as three is "repetition", the info in the book could be presented in 100-150 pages max., but the author repeated many points all over pages! Also the author didn't classify the games based on strategy and/or goal, so you end up -as a reader- creating indices for the games based on these two metrics, which makes it very hard to return back to, as reference, upon need.
Profile Image for Krashagi Saini.
43 reviews1 follower
August 22, 2018
In this fast-paced moving world, every organisation needs creative ideas for constantly re-inventing and innovating. This book is like a directory that contains tools that foster creativity in a team, helps in team building , collaborating , brain-storming and strategizing in order to achieve desired goals in a specific course of time keeping play at the core of it.
This book gives a fresh perspective about game as play which brings out the essence of our innate childlike attributes that is present in humans since childhood but gets lost as we grow over a period of time.
32 reviews1 follower
November 21, 2020
For the right audience this is a 5+ and for the wrong audience it's a 2 star book. What I mean is that it's somewhat niche but man it covers a lot of ground if you facilitate a lot of workshops or want to include people more.

I felt like I didn't truly get the premise for the games suggested even though I read the first part twice and all the game suggestions became a bit overwhelming but... Still great and definitely a book I'll get back to and research online a bit (see examples)... Might turn into a 5 star book at some point but not yet.
Profile Image for Toni SCRUMptious.
31 reviews2 followers
July 1, 2021
I give a five star review if I believe that I will re-read or repeatedly refer back to a book and I am likely to recommend it to colleagues as essential reading.

A team facilitator needs to have a toolbox of activities to call upon in their work with teams.
Different activities work in different scenarios and with different teams, as ever, context is key.

Whilst reading through this book, I kept a tally as follows:
Number of games I have already used - 19
Number of games I intend to use - 38
Number of games I might use - 22
Number of games I'm unlikely to use - 6
Profile Image for Evelina Rimkute.
Author 2 books15 followers
May 29, 2022
📖The Book who encourages me to be less serious and more playful, even at work: Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown @sunnibrown and James Macanufo.

👉The authors created a handbook (or I shall say "encyclopedia") for diverse opening, content, analysis and closure activities, which empower team leaders to drive effective gatherings. ✂️📌📋📊📉🗒✏️📂📣

👉Even more, here I was practicing my first sketching ever! It almost worked! 😁

A go to for everyone, who needs to drive group of people to co-create!🙌
Profile Image for David.
14 reviews
December 22, 2017
It contained some interesting methods for brainstorming. I know it was called gamestorming, but almost all the techniques were ones that I have seen used during brainstorming events over the last several decades. Still, it was well written and I haven't seen this many brought together in one book. I do recommend it as a useful resource for anyone thinking about how to get their organization to brainstorm and work through new ideas, urgent issues, or ongoing problems.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 183 reviews

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