What if associations used the power of play to refresh their competitive advantage and to rethink their programs and services?
In the ABC Nightline episode in which product designers from IDEO redesign the grocery store shopping cart, IDEO founder David Kelly asserts "We have to tell them (members of the design team) what needs to optimize their solutions to."
It's a critical piece of advice for most effectively engaging the wisdom of the crowd: don't just throw open the floodgates for ideas that respond to a vague open-ended question. Solicit ideas and input that fit specific needs and constraints imposed to inspire fresh thinking and identify untapped value opportunities.
Just as companies engage in more customer-generated innovation, associations should be leveraging member-centered ideas and innovative thinking … but directed toward solutions meeting specific criteria. Example: Rethink association volunteer assignments to maximize volunteer autonomy while ensuring a high degree of overall quality.
The board game, rethink, offers an excellent example of how an organization can use a game to involve individuals in generating creative solutions to timeless challenges, both in person and online. While the game's purpose is to promote fresh thinking about eco-design and sustainability issues, its basic format could be modified for any specific needs an association might wish to address.
Teams of individuals could play the game as part of a major conference, or you could simply invite individuals from throughout your membership to download a game card, respond to it, and upload a scan of their solution. Members could be invited to vote for their favorites. Those selected might then be developed through rapid prototyping and offered to the membership on a trial basis. Something similar was done at a recent UK conference sponsored by the Economist. The entire effort is ripe for a business partner's sponsorship.
I think I might just go about creating this type of game, as well as a sample conversation kit suggested in last week's Wednesday What If? based on a recent session I co-led at ASAE & the Center's Great Ideas Conference on The Serious Business of Purposeful Play, there is ample interest in using play in more purposeful ways. You can access the handouts and slides from our session here. Just look for our session title in the Monday, 3:15-4:30 p.m. time block.
Note: Wednesday What If is a weekly feature applying the "what if" mindset associated with abductive reasoning or logic in an effort to stretch our thinking about what is desirable and very frequently, quite doable.