Originally published over at Melbourne.co.uk
In a company like ours, where we’re dealing with customers 24/7 and managing the day-to-day activities of the business, finding time to think about the future can be a challenge. There’s always something you could be doing – a ticket that needs responding to, a report to write – but taking a step back and flexing our imaginations from time-to-time is just as important.
In the tech industry, there are literally no limits to what we could achieve, yet as technologists, we can sometimes experience a failure of imagination because everything is a problem that needs to be ‘solved’.
However, disconnecting ourselves from the distraction of solving a problem immediately is potentially the strongest approach to thinking imaginatively and uncovering our potential as a business. Let’s ignore the limits of today and think what “could be”.
I recently facilitated an internal workshop aimed at doing just that. When I announced we were “going to play a game”, there was an unsurprising degree of scepticism. Games are what we play on the Xbox, or the pool table to let off steam – not to develop the business. But I decided to try out The Grove’s Cover Story game, to allow participants the opportunity to unleash their visions for the company.
Essentially, I asked participants to imagine a future accomplishment of Melbourne so big that it gets published on the front page of a newspaper. The aim was to uncover shared goals and come up with ways of making those happen.
The game is simple. The below process is adapted from the Grove website.
Start by drawing a large cover story poster for each 5 – 8 person group. Arrange the chart however you want, but make sure it has the following six components:
- Cover – states the spectacular success accomplished by the company
- Headers – reveal what the story is about
- Sidebars – include parts of the report
- Quotes – testimonials about the accomplishment from anyone imaginable
- Images – pictures that support the cover story
- Brainstorms – used for writing down ideas before starting the activity
After taking 5 minutes for players to quietly ponder where they want the company to go, have the team members collaborate with their groups and fill in the components of their charts. This can last 30 – 45 minutes.
Once all the cover stories are complete, give each group 5 – 10 minutes to present their big-picture ideas. As a team, work to recognise any commonalities among the stories and reflect on how these similarities can actually be applied. While some of the stories may seem extravagant, the collective thinking process may uncover real possibilities for your company’s future.
Why it Works
The Grove says that without a creative outlet, it is easy for companies to get stuck in a mundane slump, not progressing toward its potential. The game allows you to dream of the improbable, which could lead to envisioning what is attainable. By freeing yourself from all restraints, you can release your imagination and think big in order to realize what direction your company should move toward.
I’d recommend every company – no matter how big or small – have a go at playing the Cover Story game: it’s a great way to stop thinking about the restrictions and identify your company’s shared goals.
Josh @ Melbourne