Idea vs Sabotage Battle: a game for workshops

A little post to share a simple game I designed for an ideation workshop this week. It went down really well! With my Isle of Wight Biosphere volunteer comms officer hat on, I went to speak to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation about the biosphere and wanted to get their ideas for applying their circular economy thinking to the island as well as ways to avoid failure. I tried the following, and was very pleased to find it generated lots of great ideas and discussion in only about 20-25 minutes.

Split into two teams (in this case the Caulkheads and the Grockles, for local relevance). Each team has a set time (e.g. ten minutes) to produce two piles of post-its, as many as possible. One is full of ideas to make improvements, the other is ways to sabotage making improvements. Best if these are based on past experience and real world examples (without getting into the weeds of debating their feasibility).

Then the battle: each team takes turns in presenting a positive improvement from their post-its for which they get a point. However, the other team can also get a point if they can find a way to sabotage it, but it must be from their pre-prepared post-its and can only be used once.

Create a time limit for idea sharing and at the end of it add up the points to crown a winning team.

I wasn’t very strict about times and allowed a little discussion during the battle as people inevitably volunteered specifics, suggestions or ways to counter the sabotage etc. I also eavesdropped during the first generation phase so I could hear what was behind the ideas, and gave time reminders and prompts to make sure they were writing as much down for both ideas and sabotage strategies as possible. If I was doing it again and I had more time I would try a second round once people are more familiar with the mechanic.

In this case the Grockles won but the Caulkheads had perhaps a moral victory because they decided they didn’t want to sabotage ideas that were lovely, whereas the Grockles had no problem with it. So it just confirmed that you should never trust a grockle 😉 (I joke).

This feels like a game with opportunities to expand or tweak, let me know if you have suggestions or if you try it!

Thanks to Danny Birchall for talking through the game mechanic with me!

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