Games are fun. That’s why we play them. Well, that, in addi­tion to feed­ing com­pet­i­tive appetites and gain­ing recog­ni­tion for the win. That’s qual­i­ta­tive. The flip side of games is all about the num­bers. Sta­tis­tics. Chi squares. Sig­nif­i­cance and con­fi­dence. Risk analysis.

By their very nature, games are not only fun in a qual­i­ta­tive way, they are highly quan­ti­ta­tive. The num­bers gleaned from play help us to improve, advance, and inno­vate. We real­ized that from engag­ing in games designed by Luke Hohmann in his book Inno­va­tion Games: Cre­at­ing Break­through Prod­ucts Through Col­lab­o­ra­tive Play.

Recently, we engaged our cus­tomers, both inter­nally and exter­nally, to play the Inno­va­tion Games and see if our game results pro­vided good feed­back. My last post described the qual­i­ta­tive side of this exper­i­ment, which was sur­pris­ingly valu­able. Apply­ing the game strate­gies to the quan­ti­ta­tive side, we used some of the same game strate­gies that ended up remind­ing us of some­thing impor­tant: We didn’t know what we didn’t know.

You’ve prob­a­bly expe­ri­enced the wince that comes from tak­ing a tra­di­tional sur­vey with directed answers, none of which accu­rately describe your true responses. After play­ing inno­va­tion games, we decided not to do that. We cre­ated a sur­vey based on things we found out from games we had played a week ear­lier. After out­lin­ing what we expected our play­ers’ game strate­gies would be, we chose our words care­fully to ensure diver­gent think­ing would find a com­fort­able niche. Sur­vey par­tic­i­pants were encour­aged to cus­tomize their sur­vey responses to accu­rately reflect their experience.

We went in with two objectives:

  1. We wanted to know what mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als felt were the major pain points in their respon­si­bil­i­ties, sim­i­lar to the book’s Speed Boat game we had played. Bud­get? Tech­nol­ogy? Processing?
  2. We wanted to know what tools were valu­able in build­ing a suc­cess­ful mar­ket­ing plan for their com­pa­nies, in line with the rank and effec­tive­ness infor­ma­tion gleaned from play­ing the 20/20 Vision game. Email? Web­site? Tele­mar­ket­ing? Mobile?

We knew we couldn’t think of every­thing our cus­tomers really want us to know. Open-ended, diver­gent ques­tions would help us uncover that elu­sive bank of things we didn’t know that we didn’t know. The results were pre­dictable, to a point, but the value of what we learned is just begin­ning to sharpen our edge.

We learned that by more than a 2:1 ratio, our cus­tomers felt paid mobile adver­tis­ing was either not effec­tive or not applic­a­ble. One addi­tional sur­prise? Inter­est in paid mobile adver­tis­ing had proven low in our ear­lier game play­ing. In fact, nearly neg­li­gi­ble. While higher in the sur­vey responses, it was still a lit­tle sur­pris­ing to learn where our cus­tomers were putting their resources. Even in our high tech field cus­tomers, as many felt that mobile was not applic­a­ble as felt it was effec­tive. We also found that the pain of lim­ited bud­gets formed a sort of U-shaped curve: most painful at both the small­est and largest firms. Also a sur­prise? Mar­keters are still using QR codes.

I will give you some actual num­bers in my next post, where we’ll com­pare and con­trast the qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive boun­ties for you, as we con­tinue to engage in Inno­va­tion Games. Come along if you’d like to play. Espe­cially if you’d like to win.