Serious games are back in the conference rooms, be it during meetings with colleagues or clients! And they are the way to go for more interaction while not losing sight of your objective. But it is not without reason that large companies call upon experts to avoid possible pitfalls. To mobilize your collective intelligence, you need to know how to calm your chatty colleagues and engage the shier ones. Furthermore, you need to choose topics that all participants with their different competences, skills and backgrounds can contribute to.
Assess your current situation efficiently before moving on to the more critical topics all while making sure that your colleagues retain essential information.
Define your playground and set the tone: creative warm-up
A good way to ensure that all participants are ready to tackle the topics to come is a creative warm-up. This exercise has two goals: open the meeting and put everybody at ease with one another.
You will need: different objects (at least as many as there are participants)
For: 8 to 25 participants
The simplest setup consists of dividing the participants into smaller groups at random. The objects are placed on a table and the participants are asked to choose one of them. Once everybody has sat back down in their groups, invite them to imagine a small story relating to their object as well as to the company, their work or your field in general. The results may be a vision of your performance during the year to come or a retrospective look at the founders’ story. The general idea is to mobilize everybody’s creativity and encourage first exchanges.
Review the past year and identify sources of incomprehension with a drawing
At the beginning of the year, it’s often time to review the past and ensure that all your colleagues are on board with the company vision. A drawing will help you get there faster. The goal is to assess your situation and jump to the points that raise the most questions. By sources of incomprehension we actually mean the blockages associated with these. Exchange your ideas and start off your brainstorming session on a solid foundation!
You will need: some sheets of paper, preferably A3, pens, tape or any other material to fix your sheets to the wall and stickers in two different colors, green and red for example (or beekast).
For: 10 to 30 participants
In groups or individually, the participants draw their answers to the questions you will ask. You might ask for example, “How will you work together this year to attack the European market?”. Once finished, hang your masterpieces on the wall and invite the participants to place green stickers next to elements that speak to them and red stickers next to those they do not quite understand. Then ask participants to try and explain the red points of incomprehension. Involve the actual author(s) of the drawing only at the second stage for further clarifications.
Beekast allows you to explore a digital variation of this game. Once the drawings are finished, every participant or group posts a photo of their masterpiece on the message wall of your beekast event. The participants can then begin comment on the creations of their colleagues. In this way, you avoid the commotion when placing stickers and, most importantly, you keep track of what is being said and can export the discussions afterward.
A brainstorming session that prioritizes ideas
Give your colleagues the opportunity to express their opinions and points of view. Invite them to work on their own at first, then in little groups and finally, engage the entire audience. This technique is especially useful for generating new ideas and prioritizing. Begin by welcoming plentitude and encouraging a variety of new ideas. The prioritization of everybody’s contributions takes place later on.
You will need: A4 sheets of paper and a projection screen or whiteboard
For: 5 to 50 participants
Ask a question and invite everybody to come up with five propositions on their own. In groups of three to five participants, discuss these first ideas and settle on the five most convincing propositions. Then, one after another the groups present their ideas orally to the rest of the audience while the moderator writes them on the whiteboard and invites the other listeners to share their initial reactions. Once all ideas have been presented, an individual vote where participants can choose two propositions will help prioritize. The goal of this exercise is to invite everybody to contribute. During the initial discussions in smaller groups even the shiest participants are encouraged to share their approaches. Beekast can help you out when you reach the stage of the individual vote: Simply add the different propositions to our vote animation and let participants express their opinions digitally.
Brainstorming is more complex and difficult method to master than it may appear: A given amount of time is necessary and certain people tend to keep quiet. To help you navigate this crucial phase on your route toward progress beekast has developed a module to address all of these problems more efficiently. Enjoy all the benefits associated with digitalization without sacrificing real interactions and dialogues.
Handle a critical issue and prepare its communication
Some of the topics that come up may be difficult to discuss but absolutely crucial to address. In that case, opt for face-to-face exchanges. By letting two groups confront one another on a particular issue, you collect a great deal of the arguments and responses out there. In this way, you shed light on complex issues and prepare your subsequent communication. The goal is for the two teams to enact a conflict that explores a wide range of possible scenarios and preventive measures. Or, if prevention is no longer an option, the next best reaction.
You will need: A4 or A5 sheets of paper and pens
For: 8 to 30 participants
Split your group into two teams of the same size and explain the rules: On a given issue (e.g. should we attack the Italian market in 2018?), one group concentrates on the risks while the other counters with objections disarming these risks. The second team gets a point when they manage to come up with a valid objection. However, if they cannot then the point goes to the first team. Warning: The teams are not allowed to communicate with each other at the preparative stage. They are encouraged to come up with as many different scenarios as possible. Each team writes a list of risks and objections on paper cards. Choose a person from each team who acts as a spy giving hints to the other team without revealing too much, “Did you remember French competitors on the Italian market?”. Once everybody’s arguments have been written down invite the two teams to face each other. Two participants in charge of taking notes are placed in the middle. Then, the first team starts by presenting a risk. The second team counters by objecting and, if possible, the first team comes back with a new risk. If a team is no longer able to counter the other on a given topic the point goes to the other team.
By the time you have finished this exercise, you will dispose of a list of risks associated with your objective and different arguments countering these risks. There may not be a solution or counter for everything. But identifying these risks will allow you to discuss them with your colleagues and make informed decisions.
Conclude with a summary game
The summary game is ideal to close your productivity gaming session in line with its primary goals. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that the time you have spent with your collaborators will have a lasting impact and bear fruits on your way forward. The summary game asks participants to focus on key words that capture the essence of your meeting.
You will need: a projection screen or a whiteboard
For: 5 to 50 participants
Invite your participants, individually or in groups, to sum up their perceptions of the topics you discussed in very short sentences. Insist on phrases rather than a collection of unrelated words. First round: 20 words Second round: 10 words Third round: 5 words Between different rounds, all propositions are written onto the whiteboard or projected onto the screen. You can encourage the participants to vote on which sentences sum up the event best. If your audience is very large, you may prefer to start off with group propositions for the first rounds and finish with an individual proposition.
By formulating short sentences, the participants need to ditch ideas they consider secondary and focus on what they believe to be essential – which is what they will ultimately remember. This allows you to ensure that the most important pieces of information have reached everybody. However, if that is not the case, you may want to briefly underline particular topics and make sure that your audience is on the same page.
Do not lose sight of your reasons for playing
These methods are your key to a successful meeting. By inciting your colleagues to ponder different topics individually and then discussing them together you are sure to get the best out of your team and the different areas of expertise they bring to the table. However, keep the following aspects in mind while you are trying to make expert use of your collective intelligence: Make sure to manage your time well: Some exercises may take longer than others. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to moderate arising debates. To keep on top, make sure that you plan and structure your day efficiently. The ideal meeting includes three stages plus breaks:
- Introduction / Creative warm-up, brainstorming, drawings
- Exploration / Debate (face-to-face)
- Convergence / Prioritization (summary)
Finally, have a look at all the digital solutions you can include to activate the participants’ emotional intelligence as well as to help you analyze the results.