On October, 10th the first Learning-by-Playing Meetup in Hamburg took place. I founded this meetup with my fellow serious gamer, Karsten, who I met at #play14 in London two years ago. What is this Meetup about? In my work, I often use simulations or games to let people experience new ways of working – or effects they haven’t been aware before, such as team dynamics, agility, cultural differences, working with visuals, and others. Many of these games are documented or I have learned them from others on events, such as #play14, others I came up with myself. A good facilitation of these exercises is essential for their success, i.e. the participants can gain new insights that help them in their daily (working) life.
With this meetup, I want to provide a space to introduce new games but also to learn how to facilitate these games in a safe environment. I also want to reach people outside the agile community – on one hand, to show them new ways of teaching (most people in the agile community already know), on the other hand, to learn from other professions than agile coaches.
On the first meetup, I decided to show people what serious games are about, and hence I introduced two games. Interestingly, almost none of the participants came from the agile community, and only a few had come in touch with serious gaming before. We facilitated a short warmup exercise, where we let the audience find out about”the reason why to use games” and “what is important when facilitating serious games”.
I chose two games that I was able to scale. Due to the nature of the venue and the high number of participants I decided to use slides (which I normally don’t do):
- 20:20 (English, German) – A game I learned at #play14 in Berlin this year. The aim is to show that everyone can draw small images (in a very short time) that immensely help to understand and memorise complex situations more easily than just using text.
- The Toyota Improvement Kata Puzzle (English, German) – The outcome is to show a structured way on how to reach goals, using the techniques Mike Rother researched at Toyota (based on the Deming Cycle, PDCA). I used a different approach than Mike Rother in Kata to Grow and introduced the transition from the process to the “kata” at the end (when it becomes more obvious to the participants).
Interestingly, I planned to introduce the Marshmallow Challenge, but then thought it was too well known amongst various professions. However, the audience proofed my wrong and asked for it in the end ;-). So it will be on the list of games for the next time.
Initiating this meetup showed me that if you have a passion for something – in this case, introducing new ways of learning and teaching to others and to provoke a change in their behaviour – it will work out. I admit that I was a bit nervous in the beginning, but the meetup boosted my self-esteem. I was extremely thankful for the audience who participated enthusiastically, eagerly shared their insights with the others and made everyone feel welcome. I am looking forward to the next meetups.