The Innovation Management Game is a ‘serious game for serious professionals’: a business simulation in which different teams compete with and against each other to build an innovative corporation.
The Innovation Management Game shows the players that leading an innovative organisation always goes hand in hand with finding the right balance between short term orientation – such as cost optimalization and increasing revenue – and long term orientation – such as innovation and technological developments. The Game contributes to the personal development of professionals on the fields of Innovation Management, Business Model Innovation, Open Innovation, Co-creation, Social Innovation, Crowdsourcing, Entrepreneurship and Crowdfunding. The Game is meant for both students in higher education and universities and professionals.
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Recently, an article about the effect of serious games on teaching and learning the essentials of (open) innovation and innovation management has been published on the ssrn. The authors have researched a group of students from different nationalities playing a game in the context of an education course. By playing the game, they had the following goals:
Creating a shared experience of social dynamics and the paradox of co-opetition for the students;
Enable critical reflection on social dynamics of co-opetition based on this experience;
Experience-based learning — enable the students to apply what they learned from their reflection and experience through iteration;
Create deeper understanding of open innovation;
The study uses a series of plays and discussions and compares the results of these sessions with game theory. They round up with several interesting conclusions:
We argued that play can be a source of creativity, imagination and fun in a teaching setting (cf. Kolb & Kolb, 2010).
We found evidence that playful games can help to create such an experience through interactive experience and simple simulation — thereby helping the students to better understand the theory behind open collaborative innovation (Bogers, 2012; Chesbrough, 2003; Chesbrough et al., 2006; Dahlander & Gann, 2010; Nalebuff & Brandenburger, 1997).
Moreover, playful games allow understanding open innovation as interplay of complex processes of relating, social capital, and institutions (Adler & Kwon, 2002; Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998; Rolfstam, 2009; Searle, 2005; Stacey & Griffin, 2005).
They thus allow us to get a more holistic understanding of the complex social dynamics that emerge when people have to deal with novelty. (Bogers & Sproedt, 2012).
Two of the most used innovation games in teaching (professionals) and higher education are:
A couple of weeks ago, I had to give a presentation about innovation management at the Frismakers Festival in the Netherlands. The presentation was about innovation management at Avans University, where I’m employed as a lecturer on this topic.
The presentation follows a structured number of steps:
firstly, I had to jump into the subject: the innovation management game, a game about innovation management, a company that is now commercially developed but started as a spinn-off from Avans University.
In the next step, a short summary of the need for innovation in the educational sector followed: it all comes down to our business model. Why are students going to Universities? Right, because they’ll receive graduate certificates. Why do they need them? Right, because companies ask for these credentials. But what if companies are not asking for credentials from a single University anymore, more rather like their new employees to have different certificates from high-end institutes like MIT or Harvard, received by following online courses (which is already possible), why would students go to a smaller institute like ours? The current business model is on the edge of a huge change and educational facilities need to think about their innovative capacity quickly.
In the next phase, I explained what we did: the process of innovation. The direction of innovation is mainly top-down. But most of the (fuzzy front end of) innovation starts bottom-up, like in many professional organizations. Therefore, many great ideas will never make it to a good business case, let alone a true a commercial product or service.
So what did we learn? Innovation has to be facilited both top-down (for the larger projects, oftenly incremental) as bottom-up (for radical ideas). We also learned that innovation (therefore) mostly happens incidently. However, the whole idea behind innovation management is to not let is happen incidently. And thirdly, there is never enough time. Innovation is something we usually do in the weekends.
Bottom line: we acted on it by creating a new rol: the innovation director (1 fte) in the lowest level of hierarchy in the organisation: the team of lecturers. All the lecturers got 5% of their time to spend on innovation, which is managed by this director. Ideation and Concepting are seperated; some people are better at the first, some people do better at concepting. The director talks to the educational board and makes sure that project fall within strategic plans or – when not – are supported by external or internal financial resources. And it’s starting to pay off.