Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers and Changemakers, the new book by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo, is a great source of inspiration for any executive who seeks to invigorate thinking in their workplace.

Gamestorming contains over 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies – visually. This is an unprecedented collection of tools and strategies that anyone can use to examine challenges deeply, explore new ideas, for performing experiments and testing hypotheses, and for generating new and creative insights and results.

Dave Gray is best known as the founder and chairman of XPLANE, a visual communication company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. He has long been a leading advocate of expressing complex concepts using simple, elegant diagrams and illustrations, and his firm helps its clients to do so with great clarity and imagination. I have been following his work for a number of years – the man is positively brilliant!

Sunni Brown also has a growing reputation in this space. Her firm, BrightSpot Info Design, helps companies to think visually to support organizational and group success. James Macanufo is an active gamer and has invented several card games. Together, these three authors are greater than the sum of their parts.

Gamestorming opens by teaching the reader some underlying skills and concepts, such as how to ask good questions, visual constructs that are used to create the sketches and diagrams used in the various games and exercises, and some tips on how to employ visual language. You don’t need to be able to draw well, but just to be able to master a handful of simple techniques for recording concepts in crude sketches.

Gamestorming isn’t designed to be read cover-to-cover, but rather to be used as a field guide to effective visual communication. In his preface to the book, Gray explains that he and his co-authors are not the inventors of these visual thinking techniques, but rather the collectors and curators of the ones they have seen used in various companies. He compares himself, Brown and Macanufo to the Brothers Grimm, who collected oral stories and folk tales from Germany and recorded them in a book for posterity. Gamestorming does the same thing with the world’s most powerful visual thinking techniques.

Each game is categorized by the object of play, the number of players, the duration of play, how to play it and the strategies for utilizing it. Chapters provide logical divisions between the different types of games, including:

  • Core games
  • Games for opening (divergent thinking)
  • Games for exploring
  • Games for closing (convergent thinking)

So many of the challenges we face today in business are complex and systemic, and lend themselves to being solved via visual thinking techniques. Kudos to Gray, Brown and Macanufo for creating such an important piece of work. We’ll all be better creative problem solvers thanks to their curation and interpretation of these powerful techniques.

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.