March 3, 2016

BABOK v3 Techniques: Collaborative Games

Who doesn’t love games? Well, maybe some of us grow out of it as we become adults, but I think that the kid in all of us still enjoys games, especially when they serve a valuable purpose. In this blog, I’m going to share one of the techniques in version 3 of the BABOK®: Collaborative Games. This technique was originally introduced by the IIBA® in the Agile Extension to the BABOK® a few years ago, and it is now formally recognized as a common tool amongst Business Analysis professionals.

What is a “Collaborative Game”?

This technique includes playing structured games, generally directed by a facilitator, who helps a team to achieve a goal by encouraging participation and collaboration among stakeholders.

Why Would I Use Collaborative Games as a Technique?

As I mentioned before – they can be fun! By engaging people in a more tactile and visual way, with a structured set of rules, people are able to open up and be creative. They can also help reveal hidden assumptions, encourage normally reserved people to participate more, and may expose business needs that aren’t being met.

How Do I Conduct a Collaborative Game?

Before getting started, make sure you have the right participants, the proper venue and tools (such as whiteboards, sticky notes, pens, etc.), and that the goal of the session has been clearly communicated. Many games are time-boxed in order to keep things moving. In order to conduct a game, follow these basic steps:

OPEN

  • Get the participants involved
  • Communicate the rules of the game
  • Begin to generate ideas

EXPLORE

  • Participants engage with each other
  • Identify connections between ideas
  • Test ideas
  • Experiment with ideas

CLOSE

  • Assess ideas that were generated
  • Identify which ideas are most useful and productive
  • Determine follow-up steps to take action

Are There Any Existing Pre-Structured Games I Can Use?

The BABOK® references these games:

  • Product Box – take a cereal box (or some other type), and use it as though it were the product box for your product. Include all of the values and benefits that can be realized by using your product.
  • Affinity Map – participants write down their ideas on sticky notes and collaboratively group them into similar/related ideas or themes.
  • Fishbowl – a group is split into two. One group presents to the other, while the other group takes notes and documents their observations. This is generally done to identify hidden assumptions or perspectives.

Are There Situations Where This Technique Wouldn’t Be Appropriate?

There could be cultural factors that might restrict games in some circumstances. Some organizations may view spending time on collaborative games as a waste, especially if the group loses sight of the original goal of the session. It can also lead to a false sense of confidence in the conclusions that are reached.

The games listed above are really just the tip of the iceberg. There are lot of other possibilities for collaborative games.

 

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