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Innovation Games® Applied: Build the Right Product with Buy a Feature

Innovation Games are a set of techniques created by Luke Hohmann. They are excellent tools to have in your facilitation toolbox. You can use them for many project activities and to create project artefacts too. This is the third in a series of posts about how I have used and adapted some of these techniques with projects and teams. This time we’ll take a look how Buy a Feature can help you build the right product.

I love buy a feature. It’s another prioritisation game, but this can create different insights to 20/20 Vision. You can play it online using Weave or in-person. The online version can be more effective because it has a built in chat room. Using this reduces the risk of dominant personalities taking over the conversation.

Compile a list of features and get T-shirt size estimates from your developers. Based on this, give a price to each. Take 40-60% of the total cost of the features and split that among a group of stakeholders¹. It’s important to highlight that this isn’t the “real cost”. In the online version, I’ve taken to changing the currency to gold coins so stakeholders don’t fixate too much on this. The stakeholders then have to collaborate to get the feature-set that they need. This leads to great discussions around what is the real highest priority in light of the projected size of the item. I’ve seen everyone’s “Number 1 priority” not even get selected during Buy a Feature because it was too expensive. All the other things became more important. It prompts powerful conversations between stakeholders. These generate new insights and learning for the project team.

¹ The online version does the pricing and distribution for you which is great.

There are more Innovation Games out there – which do you use? How do you use them? What hacks have you made to the original games, and how did that work for you?

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