Luke Hohmann was recommended by the VP of Global Innovation of the RELX Group, Jeff Honious, who was my guest in episode 28. Consequently, I knew I had to interview Luke to learn about his tools for innovators. Luke is the founder and CEO of The Innovation Games, which is now known as Conteneo. His past experiences include computer scientist, engineer, and product manager. Luke is serious about the smart application of games to optimize decision making in innovation, product development, and market research, and numerous companies use his tools. He is also the author of “Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play.” My favorite line from his profile is: “Luke’s an old school Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Instead of building a company to flip, he’s building a company to change the world.”
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
- Luke’s background is in competitive figure skating, computer science, and engineering. Couple that with curiosity and a never ceasing desire to learn and you have the roots of his interest in innovation.
- He credits a manager at EDS, Vern Olson, for starting him on a path to innovation. Vern told him that if he worked hard he’d be able to do really cool things and EDS would support him. This stimulated his curiosity to explore new things and earned him a reputation for innovation.
- The lesson learned – Organizational leadership can create an environment that fosters innovation or stifles it.
- Luke did not set out to create games for innovation but started as a product manager asking how to best understand what people are looking for. He used paper and pencil prototypes and through experience realized that he got better insights when his customer was holding the pencil and completing the prototype herself.
- Luke later discovered the application of games. They respond to humans’ natural desire to play and collaborate. From a game theory perspective, games have a goal; a set of rules, resources, constraints, and interaction models; a feedback mechanism to tell you how you’re doing; and natural appeal that engages people.
- The meta goal of an innovation game is to solve a business problem.
- Buy A Feature is an example of an innovation game. It helps the group decide which projects are most important and makes the best use of their available resources. To use it, say you have:
- 20 possible projects and the total budget for all them is $20M
- But you only have $8M available for new projects
- Instead of creating a competitive environment for selecting the projects, you create a collaborative environment.
- This could be accomplished by telling eight decision-makers that they each have $1M to allocate to projects.
- They must work together to determine the projects of highest value.
- Buy A Feature is used in the non-profit Every Voice Engaged to help cities create budgets and decrease the influence of political positions.
- Bwin.party, a large digital entertainment company, used Buy A Feature not only to select strategic projects but also develop alignment between senior leaders and managers.
- Some organizations try to use surveys to make decisions. Luke says “surveys suck.” Surveys can tell you what an answer is, but they don’t tell you the deeper meaning behind information. Collaboration does, which is the purpose of innovation games.
- To find the right innovation game for the right problem, Luke’s company, Conteneo, has created a game finding tool. See more at Conteneo.
- Luke’s innovation game company Conteneo
- Innovation Games – the website
- Innovation Games – the book
- Luke on LinkedIn
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strongman stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Listen Now to the Interview
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