If you’re reading this doc, you’re probably searching for strategies to help make your meetings more efficient, more productive—and you’ve come to the right place. Running better meetings starts with designing them, intentionally. Give thought and attention to your meeting’s stakeholders and the specifics of what you want to accomplish, much like an app designer would think about the app’s users and potential interactions with the app. And then work backwards to design a meeting that optimizes for both.
In their 2010 book, Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo outline a provocative viewpoint on meetings and how work gets done: Gamestorming.
Gamestorming: an introduction
Gamestorming collects and makes recipes of emerging methods and approaches to work that have been germinating since the 1970s and are deeply intertwined with the burgeoning Information Age. You can use these methods individually, but we think you'll get outsized results when you try them with your teams and clients.
Meetings give us the opportunity for outcomes unique to any other form of work. Take time, add to it ideas, put smart people in a room to discuss them—and you've created the conditions to produce wonderfully emergent, brilliantly innovative, and contagiously creative ideas. Meetings inspire us when they work. Too often, they don't.
Balancing time, people, and ideas challenges the most skilled facilitators. The raw ingredients for meetings are too costly to leave their preparation to chance; there must be a recipe. And from this seed, Gamestorming grew.
A good meeting has artifacts.
Gamestorming encourages participants to contribute. Because the framework’s goal is to foster more productive collaboration, those contributions are welcome to take whatever shape is best for meeting attendees. From sticky notes to pictures of whiteboards to digital tools, like Miro, you need documentation to capture how decisions were made. You need artifacts concrete enough to reference and share with stakeholders—that also integrate well into your team’s existing process.
In the world of instructional design, gamifying something incentivizes “players” to return for more. And the same principles can be applied in a meeting setting to encourage your team to contribute to brainstorming or decision-making processes.
Games create a participation parity with a recipe of their own: a game board (think boundaries), supplies, an agreed upon goal, and instructions for play. You will find these elements in any game, from chess to tennis to Pictionary to Cover Story (p. 65):
In other words: if you can play Monopoly, you can Gamestorm. Each meeting game (brainstorm or decision-making) has consistent rules. And all games—and meetings—have preparation, opening, exploration, and closing phases (which is also how this doc is structured).
, pulls everything together. Must arrive at some decisions.
The art of mastering Gamestorming lies in the shape above: the stubby pencil sharpened from both ends. Games string together. The output of one becomes the input to another, enabling you and your team to travel on an OPEN-EXPLORE-CLOSE journey from your initial conditions at Point A to your desired end state at Point B.
You don’t have to start from scratch: Templatize your meeting rituals.
Your OPEN-EXPLORE-CLOSE journey will soon become a ritual for your team, a pattern added to the others your meetings already rely on. Whatever your rituals may be, they can be templatized in Coda.
Each game in this toolkit can be copied and pasted into a doc for your team to use collaboratively. Or you could try one of Coda’s drag-and-drop templates. For example, if you’re always looking to get feedback from your team to see which idea resonates the most, try adding a voting table drag-and-drop template like the one below to your meeting doc.
Add and vote on questions in the table below to encourage a balanced discussion of what’s most important.
What is the process for launching a customer feedback tracker?
Is it possible to save 2 hours a week on our meetings?
Will there be any scale issues?
There are no rows in this table
Building your own game: a lightweight +1
Coda provides you the flexibility to build your own games. One simple addition to any doc is the reaction:
If you have long write-ups you want your team to review, adding these lightweight reactions throughout the text gives your team a way to provide a “+1” to the content. We’ve seen the reaction being added to project briefs, blog post drafts, and team retrospectives at companies large and small. Try adding your own reaction in any doc by typing /reaction.
Why a Gamestorming toolkit?
In today's dynamic knowledge economy, "I'm not a creative" doesn't cut it. If you are a knowledge worker, you must become, to some degree, creative. Gamestorming frees the creative process from the domain of traditional creatives. With a trip to your office supply closet YOU can conquer meeting pitfalls and landmines.
But what if not all your teammates can post a sticky note on the wall or contribute on the whiteboard? There's always been one use case Gamestorming continually seeks to improve: the remote participant.
Another hallmark of today's dynamic work environment is the virtual workforce: the satellite office, the work-from-home colleague, the dev team in a different time zone. We need to virtualize the supply closet. In the same way Gamestorming codifies practices of varied origins and implementation, this Gamestorming library Coda-fies them for virtual use, replete with game boards, supplies and instructions.
Plan your next meeting around one. String a few together. And when you get good, improvise on the spot. You'll surprise your team and yourself.
What’s been updated for 2021
Reactions for meeting participants to quickly show their approval or vote for an idea or topic.
Collapsible sections to hide extra info from the page so that participants can focus on the game at play.