Last year I attended a rapid prototyping workshop at Deloitte Digital in Melbourne, run by CEO Pete Williams and Innovation Manager Simon Townsend.  The workshop was designed to demonstrate the rapid prototyping methodology used at Deloitte both internally and with clients. The objective for this team-based exercise was for participants to create a board game that was engaging, easy to follow, used only the the materials given, had tight time constraints and a set process. It also had to be in theme – in this case, Wikileaks.

The workshop proved to be inspiring, fascinating and a whole lot of fun. The process managed to bring out the creativity and ingenuity in individuals, the cooperative spirit within groups, and a very healthy competitiveness between teams. To me it demonstrated the value of working in an open and collaborative way, and of sharing ideas early and often. I could also see the potential in applying this approach to creating solutions to social issues – whether an enterprise, project or campaign.

Lucky for us Pete is a generous guy, and with a bit of wrangling from Luke McCormack, we were able to bring together a rapid prototype workshop for the February Social Change Collaboratory meetup last week. So on Monday night at Hub Melbourne, 80 of Melbourne’s brightest change agents and architects were given the challenge to come up with a different sort of board game. This time the theme was social change through social enterprise and collaboration.

The rapid prototyping workshop process

The seven teams started with a kit consisting of boardgame board templates, dice, playdoh, letters, numbers, marker pens and a number of other bits and pieces. They then had an hour to design and present a pitch for their game, broken up in to the following stages:

  • First design round: teams design a game based on the theme – there are rules, objectives and a number of elements to consider to make the game engaging.
  • First playtest round: two people stay at the table and send the rest out to go and play at the other tables. Learning happens on both sides – with hosts giving directions and explanations, and visitors asking questions and making comments.
  • Second design round: teams return to their tables, integrate learnings and rapidly develop next iteration of the game.
  • Second playtest round: same as first playtest round with participants swapping tables again.Pitch design: return to original table, integrate new learnings, make improvements and prepare a pitch to ‘sell’ your game to the whole crowd.
  • Presentation and voting: representatives from each team present their pitch and others vote for the favourite game (which can’t be their own).

I think even Pete and Luke were amazed at the energy in the room. Once people understood the concept and the ideas started flowing there was no stopping some of them. In the second playtest round it was amazing to see how much teams’ games had progressed. It was also interesting to hear some of the questions being asked – they were much more strategic.

The games produced were:

1. Big Issue, Big Word
2. Collaborate or Die
3. Poverty
4. Co-opetition
5. Home Team
6. Environopoly (the winning game)
7. Community Pillars

Not surprisingly there were strong underlying themes of community and equity in the final games. There were also some very interesting conditions on winning for some of them. Watch the teams’ presentations.

The take home

1. There’s no end of ideas – so keep sharing them. Let them either evolve or die, and leave a space for the new ones to come out.
2. Listen, ask questions, share thoughts and be courageous.
3. Time constraints can work well if you keep it simple and you’re clear on the objectives.
4. A good mix of people with a collaborative spirit can weave magic.
5. That it’s well worthwhile exploring approaches and solutions from industries and fields other than our own.

There are also a bunch of smart, creative, innovative and inspiring people out there – give them the opportunity to try something new and watch amazing things happen.

As Albert Einstein said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

For more on what happened on the night check out the great blog posts from Dani Sirotic
and James Giang. You’ll also find more photos on the Social Change Collaboratory flickr group.

Thanks again to Pete Williams and Luke McCormack – you guys rock! 🙂