UpFront Let’s play ideas!

It might assume the standard shape of your average board game, but the whole object of Idea Navigator is to help businesses think ‘outside’ the square.
Despite its Monopoly-like appearance – complete with playing board, flip cards and dice – this apparent game has serious purpose and its players are actually putting themselves through what its designer Damien D’Cruz describes as rigorous problem-solving process.
What the board offers is focus, sense of engagement and bundle of prompts to lead people through that process. It draws on whole load of concepts and ideas that are used in the problem-solving area and presents them in more user-friendly fashion, explains D’Cruz.
“The difficult thing about problem-solving methodologies is that they’re mostly found in books but where people usually want to sit down and work at things is around table. So you need way to interpret what’s in the books into useful process on the table. What I’ve done is synthesise the theories and methodologies into very useable at-the-table format.”
Idea Navigator can involve two or more “players”, with at least one scribe to catalogue main discussion points, and can be applied to any problem – business, community, philosophical or practical.
“It’s subject-neutral process. While it’s designed for business because I saw that as the market, it’s been used to plan wedding,” says D’Cruz.
The four sides of the board represent four phases of problem solving – define the problem/opportunity, explore its background, develop innovative solutions around it, then incubate ways of building support for the ideas you’ve developed.
The cards function as prompts. The ones around the edge ask questions, getting people to think about the issue from variety of directions, then there’s the Q & R or “quote” and “random” cards in the centre. These throw up specific quotes or raise random concepts – like “beauty” or “power” which are then discussed in relation to the problem.
“Random input is quite standard process of creativity – they’re also fun and generate some pretty amazing discussion.”
Although we live in high-tech age, you still find project teams want to get together and talk, says D’Cruz.
“We all enjoy games and there’s natural engagement factor in that people can’t wait to pick up the cards and look at them.”
Two years in the designing, Idea Navigator was launched late last year and businesses already using it or showing an interest include ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand, Gosling Chapman, BCL and Fonterra.

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