Austin-SPIN - Archives - Oct09

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Requirements Elicitation using Innovation Games

Speaker:  Jeff Brantley, VP Marketing and Sales Operations at Sharp Propane

Note: Mr. Brantley's slides attached at bottom.


The phrase “innovation game” refers to a form of primary market research developed by Luke Hohmann where customers play a set of directed games as a means of generating feedback about a product or service. “Customers” who play innovation games are commonly direct recipients or consumers of a specific product or service. In some cases, though, game players may be any person or system who is or would be affected by a product or service.

Innovation games are directed by a facilitator whose responsibilities include:

    - explaining the game(s) to be played;
    - controlling the pacing and tempo of each game;
    - monitoring participation levels; and,
    - managing time of the overall game-play event.

The successful operation of an innovation game relies on collaborative play among the participants and a set of observers drawn from disparate functional groups within an organization. For example, a typical game setting for word processing software might include participants drawn from two or three corporate customers along with observers including the product’s quality assurance manager, technical architect, product manager, developer, sales executive, and others on the product team.

In this meeting, Jeff will introduce Innovation Games and explain a little more detail about the benefits of collaborative play in requirements elicitation and other aspects of research and marketing software products. Come ready to have some fun and “learn by doing” as we will be playing a few games too.

About the Speaker:

Jeff Brantley has been in technology sales, marketing and product management for 20 years.  For more than a decade he has contributed in senior product leadership roles for enterprise software companies (large and small).  Currently Jeff is Vice President of Marketing and Sales Operations at Sharp Propane, Texas’ largest independent distributor and reseller of propane. Before Sharp, Jeff was the Senior Director of Product Management at Borland Software in Austin, TX.  At Borland, Jeff had tremendous success transforming the product management function to use Agile methods, and he continues to push for broader transformation of other aspects of the software business that are in dire need of using more open and collaborative methods.  He brought in the Agile Roadmapping process and Innovation Games® from Enthiosys to help build better products and tighter teams.  Prior to building the product management team at Borland for their new product line, Jeff worked with Vignette, Troux Technologies, and Tivoli Systems, among others.  Jeff also freelances as an Innovation Games and Agile Product Management consultant, spreading the joy of ‘serious gaming’ to corporate America. 

Jeff’s passion is ‘collaborative innovation’ and he tries to help companies harness the creativity and problem-solving power that seems to be locked inside individual cubicles everywhere.  A sold out “Agilist,” Jeff believes most companies really need to adapt their business models and their software development practices to compete. He uses his work with Innovation Games facilitation and consulting to help companies make breakthroughs in product, process, communications, and strategy. 

Thinking that maybe adults are too far gone to make any progress with, ;-) Jeff also started a summer camp for kids that is focused around “teaching” them to collaborate and communicate to solve missions and challenges using NXT Mindstorms.  (  Jeff also coaches a First Lego League Robotics team at his sons’ school and used a variation on SCRUM to help the team manage the project. Jeff lives in Austin with his wonderful wife and three sons.

CommunicationsChair Austin-SPIN,
Oct 17, 2009, 8:56 AM