Gamestorming by Gray, Brown and Macanufo book review

productfernJune 14, 2020

There are a whole heap of business books now available. The joys of business analysis and product management means a lot of them relate to these professions! Enter the book review series so you know what books to buy and which will make an impact on your career. The first book is Gamestorming: A playbook for innovators, rulebreakers and changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo.

Published in 2010, I was initially pulled towards the Gamestorming book as I loved its ethos. A book whose main goal was about trying to make work more fun and engaging? Yes please! And that is what the book delivers. Gamestorming presents many different games which you can use in meetings or workshops to get ideas flowing and keep people engaged.

Image of the front cover of the gamestorming book with title and authors.

What is Gamestorming about?

Gamestorming takes us through different examples of where we can use games to enable workshops and collaboration. The book initially starts with an introduction to games. This is a useful section if you’re still getting your head around how you could be using games and having a bit more fun in your work.

It can be really easy to get into the rhythm of doing meetings and workshops in the same way day in, day out. But if there is anything which makes a really great business analyst, it’s the ability to keep people engaged. This includes managing them to elicit excellent requirements but also communicating vision and ideas.

The beginning of the book really gives food for thought for different ways of thinking about games, common techniques and how to use the rest of the book to take it forward. This best practice also enables you to start thinking about your own games!

Sections in gamestorming

Gamestorming is then broken down into a different sections:

  • Core games – The initial section introduces 10 core games, things like affinity mapping or storyboarding which can then be used in the later games.
  • Games for opening – Some of these games can be seen as icebreakers, getting the group to mingle and start to chat at the beginning of a workshop. There are also some games to open up the conversation, things like ideation or history mapping.
  • Games for exploring – These games look more at really eliciting ideas and exploring topics. This includes things like pain-gain maps or the business model canvas.
  • Games for closing – Finally, this gamestorming section looks at games to help prioritise and take actions at the end of the workshop.

Positives about the book

Overall, gamestorming is a really useful book to get you thinking about doing things in a different way. It presents common activities like having an agenda, doing an icebreaker, taking actions, or generating ideas and puts them in a fun new context. The types of games it presents leads you to think about how you can do things differently.

Even if you can’t find a game which directly links to the workshop you need to run, it gives you the building blocks to create something and run it yourself. The games can be adapted and changed to a way that fits you. For each of the games, it covers all aspects from objective of the game, duration, number of players and steps for it to take place. It sets you up for success with each of the games.

Alongside this, they also have a website which provides even more games! The website also provides some more examples of each game and gives some extra materials too. It gives a great flavour for what to expect from the book.

Negatives about the book

The book is definitely a playbook, so one to pick up and flick through when you need, rather than one which you sit down and read! Not that that is a negative, but just something to keep in mind when you buy it.

Overall there aren’t many negatives! Some of the games I don’t really see as actual games. They have some techniques in there like SWOT which doesn’t feel like much of a game but has been included. That said, there aren’t many of these and that’s just my opinion – others may see them the other way!

The book was written in 2010 so it is a little out of date in terms of presenting remote options. I think many of them can be adopted to be used online using one of the tools mentioned in our 10 great tools for remote business analysis and product management. It’s just a job to review them and adapt them accordingly.

Have I been able to apply Gamestorming in real life?

The biggest question when it comes to any work book – can you use the techniques presented? And in this case, yes! I definitely use the aspects from this. Even if I don’t use the specific games, it has really inspired me to look at the meetings and workshops I’m running and making sure they are fun and engaging.

Even since working remotely, I’ve used Miro several times to do things like affinity mapping or different ideation techniques. It’s a book I enjoy picking up every now and again to scour for more inspiration. It’s not one which will linger untouched on your bookshelf.

Should you buy Gamestorming?

If you’ve read the Gamestorming website and generally enjoyed it or it got the cogs turning then yes! The paperback can be a bit pricey but I do think it’s better than getting the e-book version as flicking through and comparing the games is essential. Have a browse through their other materials and then go for it.

What next?

Enjoyed this? Check out our other articles such as ‘what is user research?‘ for more inspiration.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Are there any other book reviews which you’re looking for? Drop us a comment below!

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