Tag Archives: innovation

Innovate or Dinosaur! Serious Play for Innovation.

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September’s DwD explored the new board game (launched this week) by Traction Strategy, cheekily called Innovate or Dinosaur!  A truly collaborative innovation game, the playful approach helps teams generate and test new ideas, create a path to assess and implement them, and builds the capacity for organizations to “innovate everyday”.

Played by teams of 4 or more per table, the game is staged into two board and movements, Exploration and Evolution.   The  Explore board uses a standard die and chance to move players through a number of event and process cards that promote lateral thinking and exploration of your innovation ideas in novel, playful ways. gameboard

Players start by generating a set of proposed innovation proposals for their organization or projects that they choose to present in exploration with team members. Competition can be set up between groups and within teams in playful ways to drive the game process forward. We played with a time deadline model, where the first round of game play ended after 20 minutes and teams were credited with the number of innovation proposals explored within the period. Chance also played into some teams tackling fewer proposals, depending on board position and card actions.

Tamara and Shawna’s experience in innovation engagements with organizations led to creating a large catalog of provocations and lateral thinking concepts in the various process cards. Many of these are quite unexpected and fun, lending a real experience of surprise to the game proceedings.

The Innovate or Dinosaur game design is based on some of  the key ingredients for innovation identified in a study done on the innovation processes of  Nobel Prize Winners – some of  the most highly recognized innovators in the world. These key ingredients include: collaboration, competence, communication, vision, playfulness, and work (effort).












A roomful of participants played through both boards of the game over a 2 hour + session, which was found to be insufficient time to explore more than one innovation proposal from each player. The game approach requires multiple rounds of ideation, and participants found real value in some of the idea development. By the end of the session, there was convincing evidence of the unique value of the gameboard approach and the value of the specific tools and processes built into the game.

Traction Strategy has since launched the game publicly, and the game is available and promoted at innovateordinosaur.com













About the Hosts

Tamara Eberle, CPF, CTF, Founder and Director of Facilitation & Learning, Traction Strategy  and Shawna Eberle, Toronto-based Director of Traction Studio

tamTamara is an award-winning professional facilitator with over two decades of group leadership and process design experience. She is a Certified Professional Facilitator (IAF), Certified ToP Facilitator (ICA), has a degree in Sociology, and has specialized training in Public Participation (IAP2), Change Management, Design Charrettes (NCI), and organizational game design.

Traction Strategy is a multi-award winning, boutique consulting company providing Certified Professional Facilitation as well as leadership and organizational development training.  As experts with diverse, cross-functional teams and stakeholder groups, they use participatory methods and techniques to support teams and organizations while providing a meaningful experience.

Sticky: Healing Wicked Problems in Health

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Can rethinking challenges together break through our most compelling health design problems?

February’s DwD held an open session for health and design professionals from across sectors in the community. Paolo Korre, Design Consultant at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Peter Jones hosted about 30 people from a diverse range of roles and sectors attended (starting off with a visual mapping of name tags by place and health intention).  Most of us reported as being external to healthcare (bottom of the grid), but we were lucky enough to get 4 or so closer to the front lines of care and practice.


The engagement was typical DwD :

1) Open circle share and introduction
2) Nominal group technique: Generating one well-framed question (or wicked problem) in health of personal interest
3) Selection for first round Open Space (5 groups)
4) Further selection for larger Cafe sessions (4 groups)
5) Post and share Cafe sketches

+ Hanging around to talk with those who wanted to stay longer

What is the possibility for creating better practices and healthier communities through health and care design? What experience and wisdom might emerge if we had the time and place to share it with a community of committed listeners?

The  following three intentions (at least 1 and 2) were upheld by the end of the evening:

  1. Bringing local participants together with opportunities for connection / collaboration
  2. Presenting authentic issues of concern to our work and communities
  3. Inventing possible avenues for action or engagement to follow

Of 30 or so initial wicked problems (or questions), one each proposed by each person, a first set of 5 were selected and engaged for a round:













  1. How can healthcare tech innovation be reconciled with costs?
  2. Why is healthcare so full of “problems?”
  3. What is health and who cares?
  4. How can we take ownership of our own health records?

A second round of Cafe sessions selected the most compelling themes from the first round of ideas. The final set of problems were taken on by four groups, with these responses sketched, posted (see the picture), and discussed in plenary.

James Caldwell (shown here engaged in the “Participaction” group) reviewed the workshop and discovered deeper insights and connections than we had time to develop at the close to the evening.

“Ideally each group was trying to create better practices that improved communication which would allow for better health. We presented real issues that hamper individuals and communities and tried to devise credible actions for health care engagement.”

The three that I will focus on are:
1. How do we redefine how to be radically inclusive?
2. If physical inactivity is the root of all health evil, why not ban it?
3. How do we create and maintain and own our own comprehensive health records?

“The result of any of these would mean that individuals become the drivers or agents of their own health. Ironically, the impact to the government’s financial system would be positive.”




All three issues have a few things in common:
1. They empower the individual
2. They lesson costs for the government
3. They improve the future health of the individual
4. They make for a more engaged society

“Of course any sane person would be asking why are we undertaking these initiatives today? Common sense would dictate that we would all be happier, healthier and more informed if we did. But I guess that’s why we call them “wicked problems”. Unfortunately too many groups that make too much money from individuals with health problems would lose, and I don’t think they will give up their control anytime soon.”

“I guess this is where designers can speak up and more effectively communicate to everyone why initiatives such as the three mentioned could help better our society. Designers could simplify the problem, the parameters, the solution and the message to a wider audience than the health industry or government could which would be seen as self-serving anyway.”

I agree with James that the 3 (actually all four) final problem areas are interconnected in the solutions. James is considering the outcomes, which show a virtuous cycle of healthy behavior (active lifestyles), inclusive public communication, and monitoring through electronic media. The fourth problem-solution (bottom of the board) was “creating community healing spaces.” I”m not sure this one was as well understood by the other groups, but it seems to me that James’ individual solution space is complemented by a public (or co-citizen-led) system of:

  1. Reframing inclusive healthcare to focus on those that need it most (who are unlikely to take individual initiative)
  2. Creating community centres as temporary (but connected) healing spaces,
  3. Thereby providing many opportunities to get off one’s butt
  4. Supported by personal health tracking in ever-decreasing cost and management, providing incentives to maintain a common health record.




The Toronto Star: Dialogue on Thriving in a Changing News World

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DwD hosted John Cruickshank (Publisher) and Kate Collins (Product Director, Star Media Group – Digital) from The Toronto Star for a special community design workshop. This was a DwD “innovation fishbowl” that explored the future of news media in a changing media landscape. The framing of the evening was:

What might the Toronto Star look like in the future as a dynamic and thriving content platform that effectively serves a range of audiences from loyal traditionalists who are used to paying for a singular authoritative newspaper product to younger ‘digital natives’ who participate in real-time news and meaningful content from a distributed network of sources utilizing a variety of devices?

The session unpacked the context, trends, audiences, and possible approaches for The Star to take with its platform to continue with its civic imperative and remain a thriving commercial business.

Results of the session are not provided publicly, as this was an invitational event and was held for the benefit of aiding the Star in its strategic innovation by drawing on the experience and intellectual and creative diversity of the DwD community.


Dave Gray’s new book: Gamestorming

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How to apply game thinking to your business challenges: