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Innovation Games and its rapidly increasing applications are not anymore unknown concepts to innovation driven organizations. Either referred to software applications or other online and offline game methods, all its elements are powerful means for fostering workplace social intelligence and innovation practices. In the fifth of a series of articles focused on Innovation Culture, our attention is on the emerging business use of innovation games beating all the traditional creativity and analytical tools.

Where relies the magic of games?

Toys, either handmade or bought, have been most of the times the first tools for toddles to start their learning path. Nowadays we speak about educative tools that help kids to learn the letters, ride a bicycle, with the help of PlayStation we can learn how to play guitar and with Wii, how to dance or play sports. There are lot of different tools available on the market and the offer is continuously growing. Nintendo’s Wii video game console for example says that “brings gaming to people of all ages” so in today`s world games are not just for minors but also to all age ranges.

Innovation games can perhaps well be the most efficient methods to bridge the gap of natural creativity loss.

Regarding the above question, games are part of growing and educational process and their essence relies in bringing pleasure to its users. The secret behind the success is the awareness that has been raised about human psychology, nevertheless of age we tend to respond well to games. In the light of innovation it is relevant the fact that children are more creative than adults. This was scientifically proved already back in 1968 when George Land (Land and Jarman, 1993) measured the creative performance of a group of children when they were 5-year-olds, at 10 years of age, again at 15 years of age and then compared it to same test performed among large number of adults. 5 year olds showed 98% of natural creativity, 10 year olds 30%, 15 year olds 12% and adults performed only 2% for their creativity.

This is seemingly drastic drop. In that way, innovation games can perhaps well be the most efficient methods to bridge this gap of natural creativity loss. The amount of rules and regulations that one has to follow during the traditional schooling process is considered to vanish natural creativity as we grow up. Nevertheless of the area of everything being connected and the manifested Y Generation overcrowding the digital space (offsprings born between year 1980 and 2000), the original pillars and methodologies of worldwide educational system have not much changed since the study was published so its output is still quite valid.

How can we provoke an individual to engage more during the era of everything already being highly connected?

It is proved that people need social objects to fuel interaction and socialization is all about building this engagement points and human connections. This is also why companies are getting more interested in games. Bringing in psychical engagement elements can nurture motivation and engage their employees more efficiently.

A growing demand for game mechanisms

According to Gartner predictions published back in April 2011, by 2015, More Than 50 Percent of Organizations That Manage Innovation Processes Will Gamify Those Processes. “Gamification describes the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change” said Brian Burke, an analyst at Gartner.

Gamification is commonly described as practice of employing game mechanism to serious business environments. Gabe Zichermann, the CEO of Gamification Co. explains it as taking the best lessons from the games and applying them to specific situations. By creating alluring online and offline conditions organisations stimulate and hopefully awake the talent in each collaborator. There rests a bit of Maverick in every individual. Sometimes all one might need for unlocking personal virtue and treasures is more casual and laid-back stage to speak up. Virtual collaborative platforms assist in that respect and provide vivid recognition and appreciation mechanics in order to encourage knowledge sharing. In terms of productivity, gamification speaks the digital language of the future generations. Gamification Co., the leading source for gamification news & info, underlines that by understanding what makes games fun on a personal level, young professionals require a shorter learning curve for gamified programs and applications.

In contrast to video games, there is evidence that social games seem to appeal to males and females alike.

Social Games Observer also predicts that Gamification Market to Reach $2.8 Billion in US by 2016. But also according to research conducted by Social Games Observer there is another interesting finding: there is evidence that social games seem to appeal to males and females alike. This is a positive insight for organizations that face workplace gender issues, low innovation climate and maybe even weak talent development. Both, online and offline innovation games are extremely powerful tools. Once the organizational goals are meaningful to the employees, they become engaged at an emotional level according to Gartner Inc. Engagement leads to taking up new challenges in work and when something is done with will, this achievement certainly drives success. Besides, gaming elements allow to build a growth path and in that way employees can feel that they are progressing while the complete another and another challenge, receive achievement after hard work and arrive to the end of next rewording pleasure loop.

Example: Adopting new applications based on games is a global trend among innovation driven organisations. Sweden based international company Uponor Group is currently on a doorstep of starting to implement its roadmap for change. Company Strategic Research & Innovation Manager, Süleyman Dag, identify as main driver for this process the company need to extend and go beyond the current product portfolio. He explains that as for the collaborative platforms prefers social network type of solutions as fun emotion should make it easier to implement and keep it alive.

Promoting games experiences

Creativity and extended knowledge analytics leads to sound innovation solutions. For being a good leader, mastering customer experience strategies and tactics is always a requirement.
It looks war times. Napoléon himself made battlefield analytics. First he tested it by using models to seriously play a war game. Visualization and manipulation of different variables tested in a safe environment mastered his levels of trust and autonomy. Several days of prototyping different scenarios he reach a conclusion and now he will implement on real time, he plan for the right moment. Napoleon engagement levels in relation to the ultimate goal leads towards the victory. He had built strong principles of the battlefield with the help and power of game mechanisms, which was an important instrument of cognitive stimulation.

Operationally, game mechanisms can be considered the interface between real and simulated problems planned and implemented for individuals or groups.

Operationally, game mechanisms can be considered the interface between real and simulated problems planned and implemented for individuals or groups. With both a dynamic system and intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Smart gamification is an example of a compelling and fun process, providing a meaningful experience for players.

Gains are both qualitative and quantitative. Concept design and strategies with symbolic games provide a sustainable benefit and ROI [Return On Innovation]. For organizations, the magic of game mechanics relies in the value that it can help to create. Besides the monetary prize situations, companies are focused on social networking as loyalty is becoming virtual too. When we think about marketing campaigns, their viralty is both, a concern and a goal.

Leaders benefit from experiences acquired on games, extending their customer experience capabilities and reinforcing corporate culture. Ronaldo and Messi scores records are absolutely amazing. With innovation games, managers can be the leading team heroes. Design storytelling games rewards learners achieving recognition. Collecting trends in the crowd will be awarded by direct the business to F1 fast lane growth demands, mobile game based skills combined like-minded goals.

Big issues that concern the business world and that directly have a huge impact on society, as the case of agriculture and food, finance, health and wellness, energy and transport, are always good topics for games experiences. The idea of using games mechanisms apply to different services and products and will lead to safe and reliable environment.

Achieve that trust can play thinking, sharing, developing and thus implement a coherent strategic vision. Will be useful to explore the specific practices and obtain an increase in productivity and education of the behaviors that we all want to achieve.


  1. Understand the topic
  2. Identify the content
  3. Define the mission
  4. Play the game
  5. Develop the mechanism
  6. Test, monitor and evaluate

We wish to promote other good examples that connects business requirements to high value innovation games experience. Share with us your valuable insights!

By Rui Patricio, Maie Peetri & Luis Maia Oliveira

About the authors

Rui Patricio is the Co-founder and CEO of CONTINUE TO GROW and Managing Director of Digitalflow. He is passionate about helping organizations implement innovation cutting edge programs that enable the deployment of differentiation and value added strategies. With more than 20 years experience in management and technology, Rui is a project coordinator, an active speaker, author, lecture and workshop leader on different topics of innovation and procurement.

Maie is an innovation consultant at CONTINUE TO GROW, leading the innovation games design and implementation practice. Prior to her current position she was involved in the revision and redesign of an innovation management system in an ICT SME. She has a Master in Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship from Faculty of Engineering of Porto University. Having versatile background, she is passionate about sustainability and social aspects, shares her spare time between family, gardening, travelling, sports and reading.

Luis works as a Senior Strategic Designer in the development of projects in collaboration with companies from Energy, IT, Healthcare. He worked with multinationals like Agility, KCPC in Portugal and abroad. Award winning concept designer, with an approach towards problem solving allows him to deliver in complex business cultures. Creativity for him is key for life. Experience using Lego serious play materials and methodologies facilitating for creative development in start-ups and workshops allowed him to engagement and mentoring with multiple audiences. In his spare moments he enjoys long walks and open air activities, watching movies in family.


Land, G. & Beth, J. (1993) Breakpoint and Beyond. Harpercollins Publisher.

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