Feedback of a participant to one workshop organised by PeopleBlendIT

As a workshop host, I sometimes received nice comments from happy workshop attendees. I am welcoming people with artisanal beers and homemade food vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free cooked by Aurore at Alliance Merode. This might help people to share positive comments on top of the experience of the workshop itself, but I have been positively amazed by a recent piece of feedback.

After the workshop on Innovation in August 2019, I received a wonderful comment linking leadership with the team facilitation and innovation. I prefer to leave it here in extenso:

Thanks to Board Game, I will be a better leader.

Do you play board games? Have you played when you were young? Are you still playing as an adult?
I have always been bored while playing board games, even when I was young.
For me the fun is in winning. But when your fate is in the hands of dice, winning requires luck which is by definition out of your control. So, I have always tried to spice it up by disrupting the flow of a party. For example, by changing the rules during the game, by annoying anyone who would dare having more luck than I had, by distracting everyone, so as to make them lose focus. And I have to say that it did work, I often won.
But let’s be honest, I do not understand people excited by the idea of playing a board game. The worst of all are the ones that last for days. You remember the game “Risk”? The goal was to conquer the world and kill the opponents. That was an old version of any today’s video game. I have always asked myself, where is the fun? For me, fun means immediate gratification. If I have to wait for more than one afternoon to win, this is not fun anymore.
I do not play board games very often.
But what I like is all the questions about leadership. For me, good leadership can change the world.
But it is missing in a lot of companies today.

«If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.» John Quincy Adams, 6th president of the United States.

In my 16 years of leadership in different organisations, all over the world, I have tried to live this statement.
So, when my friend told me that she knew someone in Brussels who was organising a board games evening, my first reaction was to run away.
When she told me this person is using board games to help leaders improve their leadership skills, I thought: “Really?” She piqued my curiosity.

Facilitating Ideation for Innovation (thanks to board games) – What a topic!
Ideation is the process of creating ideas. As a leader, if you know how to generate ideas from your team, you win the jackpot!

So, I was very excited.

The Workshop

12 people come up to participate to this workshop. Knowing that it was end of August, that it was 35 °C outside, and that the topic was unusual; the fact that 12 people decided to stay in a room without air-con for more than 2 hours to try something new, was an achievement.
Jord and Ralph were the two facilitators of this workshop.

The festivities started with the ice breaker.
One of us received a chart containing some graph relating a measurable to a variable, while the other received 4 cards with a statement on it. The goal was to find the funniest statement which could be linked to the chart that the central participant had. Knowing that we have all known each other for 5 min, I thought that was quite awkward. According to me, to know what will make someone laugh on a specific topic, you need to know him/her, because you need a minimum connection with that person. How was I supposed to know what would make a third-party laugh?
That was a mystery to me. And it’s true, I have got a peculiar sense of humour.
Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of the facilitators, helped to make all things go smoothly and some people even did laugh in the end.

The interesting part for me was to come now.
They split us into 3 teams.
Each team was supposed to be a marketing team, working on the launch of a new cereal product.
We had to find an original product, its name, its characteristics, its target group, and at the end design the box of cereals.
To do so, we had to follow 6 rounds:
1st round: each person individually had to come up with an innovative cereal product and keep it secret For the less imaginative of us, a box of ideas was available, where we could pick up some
deranged concepts, adapt it to ours and come up with a brand-new mad idea.
2nd round: the board game. Each participant places some token on the board, to describe his idea, and his teammates tried to
describe what this new product is using only the tokens on the board.
Of course, the teammates always came up with something lightly or completely different from the initial ideas, which allowed the author of the original concept to enrich his original ideas with what his teammate brought to the table.
This is genius! Thanks to the setting, people allowed themselves to think out of the box, to come up with the craziest things ever, without feeling ashamed, and at the end, your original ideas are enriched and more rounded than what you thought of.
3rd round: The captain’s round
One person in each team is elected to go to other’s team board, guess their ideas, and come to its original team to enrich the initial ideas.
4th round: A single idea per team
At this stage, each team has 3 ideas. The point here was to combine these 3 ideas into one, and end up with one great idea per team.
5th round: Design of the cereal boxes. One box per team.
6th round: Presentation of your product to the audience.
The results and in particular the way in which they were spawned were quite enlightening. Using board games seems to be the perfect way to stimulate imagination and allow everyone to express himself without bias.
This is a perfect way to be sure that everyone is engaged, however, the talent of the facilitators is essential. Jord and Ralph were perfect to this role. Listening to the people, and motivating them as well as adapting the rules to what was happening around the tables.

If you are au fait with Lean techniques; if you are looking for new original ideas to motivate your teams, meet Jord and Ralph, they are the men for you.

Audrey – Strategy & operational excellence
That was perfectly well done. If you are looking for a new way to engage your teams, consider this!