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21 days to innovate: a serious game to improve innovation!

21 jours pour innover : une mission pas impossible
Published on
21 December 2018

Several studies have confirmed that 21 days is the minimum time required to implement a new routine. Based on this concept, Grenoble Ecole de Management launched the serious game “21 Days, the Innovation Quest”, which is designed for companies and students in higher education. The goal is to learn how to innovate with limited resources by playing several minutes everyday. A Groupama manager who participated in the game shares feedback.

To start, players receive a box with 21 tubes and a logbook. Each tube has an enigma that will enable the player to navigate a mysterious island over the course of 21 days. Every day the player will carry out a 15 minute mission to understand a key innovation concept and think about how to integrate this concept into his or her work habits. By the end of the 21 days, players will have tested six major approaches to innovation and will be able to apply them to their job.

Encouraging collaboration through the gameboard

As part of the Parcours Mission Manager training program, 20 Groupama managers and their teams were given the task of testing GEM’s new Serious Game. Mathieu Bergon, a manager with a team of seven, explains that: “Every day, a team member led the game. It was a daily opportunity for team members to meet up. The game captured everyone’s attention. It was the reference point for daily interactions by all the members of our telephone platform.”

Leaving your comfort zone

The game required 15-20 minutes every day. “We added a time constraint using a minute glass, which encouraged quicker exchanges amongst participants. We shared this with Hélène Michel, co-leader of the game at GEM, so that a minute glass might be added to future game boxes. Creativity becomes more obvious when acting under time constraints.”

What are the game’s strengths? “21 Days, the Innovation Quest helped players leave their comfort zone and develop new habits and solutions. The enigmas were out of context in the workplace. Thus to solve the enigma, players had to disassociate from their usual job point of view. Then they had to integrate this answer in their usual work habits. The game’s fun approach also enabled us to speak casually about work topics.”

Overcoming the unknown

“The game engages players in active participation and offers a small break from daily routines. Agility is necessary to lead the game because it opens the door to exchanges with other team members about workplace challenges.”

Other advantages of the game: “Several managers used 21 Days, the Innovation Quest to facilitate the arrival of new team members. It enabled new team members to join the group in a collaborative context and contribute real added value while still being new. Following the game, I decided to implement a daily quiz to continue encouraging this spontaneous creativity among team members. And it works! Another nice aspect is that the game box is sent back to GEM after 21 days and then sent back to another team we don’t know. But, later we discover the new players by decrypting an email. This network approach is a nice way to connect players,” concludes Mathieu.

A Re-imagine Education award in San Francisco

Led by Grenoble Ecole de Management, the first version of the game was developed as part of the OpenLab Ideas Laboratory®, in collaboration with Low Tech Lab, SUEZ and the Chair Public Trust in Health at GEM. Hélène Michel, a gamification and innovation professor at GEM, and her team launched the project. The game is designed for managers and their teams as well as students in higher education. The first “physical” version was used by 20 Groupama managers, 10 SUEZ managers and 20 GEM employees. The game earned a Re-imagine Education award in San Francisco. In December, 1,000 Grande Ecole students at GEM will play a virtual version of the game with an email notification every day, much like an Advent calendar!

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