In my search for the Innovation game I want to create a board. Some kind of structure to define what is part of the game, and what isn’t. So I can cheat, because it has rules. just like a story, a game has always has a beginning, middle and an end. It helps us to know where we are in the process. The level of detail can make it more controlled or more flexible.
The games people play are often described in business or psychological models. Let´s have a look to see weither there are some similarities between them that we could use for our Innovation Game.
Most of the models follow some kind of a lifecycle, and are visualized in the shape of a U or a circle. Examples are: Gestalt Psychology (Contact), Kubler-Ross (acceptance), Situational Leadership (leadership), Tuckman (team development), Greiner (organization life cycle), Theory U (emergent processes), etc. etc. Just open any book, and use will find two axes and a U or circle. Sometimes the model has a three dimensional shape, but then there is too much information in one model in my opinion.
But are there also similarities in the content, or is it just coincidence that they all look the same? They all describe the same phenomena, but projected onto a different subjects. Just like a story that always has a beginning (platform), a problem, a solution, and an ending. Most of them follow four phases:
- Start / Control: We are trying to control our environment to keep it the way it is. We try to keep things familiar. Familiar is warm and safe.
- Problem / Struggle: We encounter differences with our environment, and “fight” with these because we want to continue in the way that we were used to. We create rules to keep things organized and clear.
- Solution / Letting go: We let our control go and open for what is really needed. We develop new ways of looking at things. There is no need to control the situation any more, because the old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore for you.
- Ending / New paradigm: We step into the world with our new way of looking at things, and interact in our new way (the beginning of a new pattern, that we love to control again…)
You could say that these are in some ways laws of nature. We always try to protect what we are used to, what keeps us safe, until this is no longer possible, and then develop ourselves further. To make it really biological: You are safe when your life is not threatened and you know what you can expect in the near future. That is why even rotten situations can give a sense of safety because it is bearable and we know what is coming next: more rottenness.
A game about Safety?
So can we conclude that the core of our Innovation game is about keeping things safe? This sounds very illogical, but at the same time: in most games there is some kind of tension between taking risks and just following the yellow brick road. It makes me curious why people want to innovate…