In this section we provide examples of games and exercises that cover topics such as open innovation, innovation culture, communication, the corporate innovation team, and networking. Also, they are grouped with emphasis on skills which the games/exercises are expected to develop.

The exercises can be used by consultant or teacher, in the interactions with clients or students.

They can be used in training sessions or to get some inspiration for solving your innovation challenges. 




Short description of the game

Theme covered: (innovation process, idea creation, IP, partnership, networks, user-involvement…)/ skills (leadership, entrepreneurial, creativity, networking, problem-solving…)

Additional info: eg. group/individual work, max amount of participants;  estimated time; resources needed (paper, pen, post-it…)


Identification of Open Innovation Practices
Description: Depending on the amount of students and the amount of time for in-class
exercises, following exercise could be used. This exercise verifies how students understood
the topic and can identifyand formulate practical examples.

Instructions: Students need to form XX number of groups.
Once the groups are formed, students have one (1) hour to collect information from different internet sources on specific company and their open innovation activities. They need
to prepare a short PowerPoint
presentation (3-5 slides) on company Open Innovation activities with focus on:
identification of OI activities and their knowledge flow
and examples.
The list of companies can be chosen based on the different of aspects (i.e. country, industry, etc).
However, it is important to make sure there is available content on the Internet for
chosen company. As a starting point, it is recommended to provide one internet source to
each selected company to students.

open innovation in large companies; inbound, outbound, coupled


Communication, Collaboration, Team-work, Presention skills

Time Plan: 5 minutes for instructions and forming groups; 60 minutes group work; 30
minutes presentations and discussion (depending on the amount of groups).


group work

Resources: requires students to have access to Internet

Justyna Dabrowska, Lappeenranta University of Technology

Zombie Escape

Link to the website

Gather the team into a conference room or other empty space and “lock” the door. Beforehand, select one team member to play the zombie — dead eyes, arms outstretched, muttering “braaaaiiiinnnnssss” and all. The volunteer zombie will be tied to the rope in the corner of the room, with 1 foot of leeway. Once the game starts, every five minutes the rope restraining the hungry zombie is let out another foot. Soon, the zombie will be able to reach the living team members, who will need to solve a series of puzzles or clues to find the hidden key that will unlock the door and allow them to escape before it’s too late.

Creative Problem Solving & Collaboration Skills


Group game/Any amount of participants/Recourses: 1 rope, 1 key, and 5-10 puzzles or clues/ Any amount of time

Emily Bonnie

Little Known Facts About Me

Link to the website

Ask each team member to send 3 personal facts about them only to you as the facilitator. They should send this information to you a few days before the meeting so you have enough time to consolidate it.

It is important to tell the team members that those facts should not be related to their current job (and preferably not known to other members of the team) to make it more fun.

You will then enter those facts in a spreadsheet in random order. On the day of the meeting, you can then share the spreadsheet on a screen, and ask each team member to guess who that fact belongs to. You would start with fact 1 at the top by reading it aloud and asking each of the team members to guess who they think that fact belongs to by speaking up. You’ll then type those guesses in the spreadsheet while sharing it on a screen where everyone can see.

Once that row is complete, you’ll move on to the next fact, and so on.

After filling in all of the rows, you can start at the top again and start filling in the right answers in the “Correct Answer” column. Asking the person with the associated fact to speak to it a bit is always amusing.

At the end, you as the facilitator can then tally up the scores of all the different team members to see who got the most guesses correctly.

This is a lot more pleasurable than it actually sounds, because as you go through the facts, the guesses by the team are hilarious. And the facts you find out would reveal quite a bit about each team member’s background.

Virtual collaboration, trust, co-working, personal connection

Group game/ 3-10 participants/ Resources: screen-sharing, teleconferencing solution (Google Hangouts, Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting)/20-60 min

Hassan Osman

Gather around for story time

Link to the website

Storytelling is at the heart of all communication. From brands to music, the ability to tell a well-crafted story is one of the purest art forms in history. Traditionally, though, we rarely use more than two or three of our senses to tell a story. Imagine if we could tell a story using all five senses. That would be a powerful story. It’s time to give it a shot.

You’re going to tell a five-part story, using a different sense for each part. The perfect number of participants for this exercise naturally is five, but you can divide up the five senses, with some taking on two or three parts of the story as needed.

The first step is to develop a story that takes advantage of all five senses. Collaborate to develop your story along one of these suggested story lines (or, if you’re short on time, pick an existing story that uses all five senses).

  •   The Agency Murder Mystery

  •   Love Between Chefs

  •   My Summer as a Rock ’n’ Roll Roadie

  •   Tailgating at the Super Bowl

  •   The Florist and the Fly

  •   Halloween Night

  •   The Short Life of a Bee

Once the group has chosen a story line, start developing a story that can be told in five parts using the senses for each. For instance, a photo or video could be used for the sense of sight. Something brought in that emits an odor could enhance the sense of smell. A tactile object would be used for the sense of touch, and so on.

Once you’ve developed your story and determined how each sense plays a role in that part of the story, divide up and acquire each of the things you need to tell the story. Reassemble with the items and lay them out in some way to “tell” the story.

Bring in people not involved with the group and take them down the line, letting them experience each part of the story using a different sense. Don’t reveal what the story is; ask them to tell you the story as they experience it. You can give them the title of the story as a guide to the type of tale it is, but then let them tell you what they’re thinking as they go. If your story uses chocolate chip cookies for one of the senses, be sure to have plenty on hand!

Creativity, communication, internal collaboration

Several groups, 5 participants in each/Resources: any attributes in the classroom/ Time: 10 min for each group

Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield


Link to the website

Open Innovation Quality Management System Role Play Simulation.

Purpose: The Management System Role-Play Simulation (MS-RPS) aims to contribute learning, knowledge creation and knowledge transfer obtained through a web-based role-play simulation environment as an intelligent approach towards organisation change in the new Open Innovation (OI) environment. The new version of OIMS-RPS intentions is to provide any interested parties with the possibility of experimenting within the selected OI business strategy and organisation’s management system model under the guidance of a moderator, and to create variant solutions in situations that mimic reality.

Innovation process


Virtual collaboration

Quality Management system development

Group role play

Max amount of participants: 1 moderator for 6 players;  estimated time8 hours; Resources needed: internet connection

Kristina Zgodavova, Matus Kisela, Lubomir Lengyel

The “Wall of Fame/Shame”

Link to the website

The instructor (or students) find real, everyday examples of innovation from around the world or local sources and briefly present them to the class. These can include examples of new products designed for the “bottom of the pyramid.” Some of the best discussion stems from “bad examples” – i.e., consumer products that the student or teacher believes may not succeed. After introducing the item, the student/teacher passes the item around the room and explains why they believe it will succeed or fail. The items may be purchased at a store, or students may bring in news items about new product releases.  

Lesson 1: Creativity by itself is not the same as innovation, but is the foundation for innovation. Innovations solve real problems and add value in unique ways.

Lesson 2: When “bad examples” are presented, there is often an opportunity for the instructor to turn the discussion into one focused on finding potential. The instructor may ask the group “We know its flaws, but what may be good or promising about this idea?” This helps keep the classroom environment positive, and helps students see and voice the potential in even dubious new ideas

Innovation process, idea creation, user-involvement/ creativity,  problem-solving

Group game
Any amount of participants,

one  instructor.
~1 hour
Product itself (can be purchased at store) or  news items about new product releases.

Charles M. Wood

Two Buckets

Link to the website

Students form teams of three to five. Each team randomly chooses an index card from each of two buckets. One set of cards has major brand names (including international brands). One set has product categories (including developing nations’ needs). The instructor opens with “You work for the company on the one card, and they now require you to develop a product for them that is on the other card.” The groups are given five to seven minutes to develop the product’s features, benefits, target audience, and perhaps promotional ideas. One spokesperson from each team briefly presents to the class while the instructor records their ideas on the board.

Lesson: Forced association (combining disparate ideas) is a helpful and practical way to get ideas for potential innovation, and a skill that can be developed in students.

Innovation process,  networks/ entrepreneurial, creativity, networking,

Group game, Several groups 3-5 participants each.

Time depend on number of groups, minimum 20 minutes.

Paper for the cards, pens,

Charles M. Wood

100 Uses

Link to the website

This exercise is a way to warm up a group and lower their inhibitions for sharing their ideas with others in their team. The task is simple: In ten minutes, come up with 100 uses for old newspapers (or unused pizza boxes, or outdated computer materials).

Lesson: The teams need every conceivable idea their members can offer to approach the target number, so they learn the value of building on each others’ ideas and not to inhibit ideas from others. They should be encouraged to recall this lesson when their team is asked to develop ideas in new contexts.

Innovation process, idea creation, networks / creativity, networking, problem-solving

Group game
Any amount of participants, several groups.
10 minutes

Old newspapers (or unused pizza boxes, or outdated computer materials).

Charles M. Wood


Link to the website

This exercise is designed to reinforce the idea that innovations need to solve a human problem of some kind. First, students are asked to work individually and think of a problem or hassle that people they know often face. The instructor can also direct the students to focus on people with special needs (e.g., blind, elderly) or in developing nations. Then, students are asked to form teams of three to five, discuss each of their ideas together, and decide on one that can best be solved with a smartphone app (“I wish a cell phone could _______”). The next step is for them to draw a large outline of an iPhone on a page (or use one provided by the instructor), and sketch the app interface on their iPhone drawing. Each team presents the human problem they sought to solve and their app solution to the class.

Lesson 1: Ideas in groups tend to be better if the members work individually first, then compare notes with the rest of the team. • Lesson 2: The best innovations solve real problems.

Innovation process, idea creation, partnership, networks, user-involvement/, creativity, networking, problem-solving

Group and individual work,  instructor;
3-5 people in each group;

~1 hour;

Flipchart, paper, pens, markers is needed.

Charles M. Wood


Link to the website

In many engineering-focused industries, the technology comes first and then an application for the technology is sought—this is the reverse of the standard innovation process. Instead of starting with problems and developing many possible innovations, students will start by examining the latest technological developments and then consider their application to many possible problems. For example, looking through a website such as, the instructor can show examples of recent R&D developments (e.g., spider silk, nanobatteries, sprayable metals) and ask “What types of products or applications can you think of for this?” Other examples may be purchased through sites such as, discussed in the context of 3D printing or with a Makerbot demonstration, or through a visit and tour to a local FabLab.

Lesson: Ideas for innovations can come as we scan outside publications about trends, technology, and R&D news.

innovation process, idea creation, IP, partnership, networks, user-involvement…)/ skills, entrepreneurial, creativity, networking,

Group or individual work,  1 instructor;

~20 minutes;

Board, projector, computer, internet asses,,

Charles M. Wood


Link to the website

At IDEO, the developers of Design Thinking, the teams begin their ideation sessions by asking a question with the prefix “How might we…?” Put challenge questions at the top of large index cards using “How might we” as the start to a number of problems you want the class to consider. Give a card to each student in the class, and ask them to write an idea for solving that problem just beneath the question. Then, each student passes their card to the person on their right. Each time a student receives a card, they should try to build on the ideas already presented, if possible. After passing the cards three to four times, ask each person—on the next round—to write down a “wild idea.” Then, pass the cards once more and ask them to build on that. Have the students report on their favorites to the class.

Lesson: When we consider others’ input and build together, we can get better outcomes.

innovation process, idea creation, IP, partnership, networks /skills  entrepreneurial, creativity, networking, problem-solving

Group game.
Any amount of participants,

one  instructor.
~30 minutes
Paper, markers.

Charles M. Wood

Perceptual Maps

Link to the website

Perceptual maps are used in strategy sessions and by advertising agencies to illustrate visually the rationale for a marketing strategy or to identify new product opportunities. Students form teams of three to five, and draw X-Y axes on paper. The instructor gives the class a product category to consider (e.g., restaurants, theaters, grocery items). The group identifies two attributes that consumers consider important when buying that product, and label their axes with those attributes. Next, they plot all the competitors on their map according to how they are perceived by consumers. By looking at the open spaces, or considering new attributes or dimensions, students may see new possibilities for products and services.

Lesson: Innovations may be viewed as filling “holes” in the competitive landscape so that customers may be better served.

innovation process, idea creation,  partnership, networks, user-involvement/ skills (leadership, entrepreneurial, creativity, networking, problem-solving

Group  work,  instructor;
3-5 people in each group;

~30 minutest;

Flipchart, paper, pens, markers is needed.

Charles M. Wood

Long Term Envisioning

Link to the website

Try to imagine what your company will be like in 50 years. 100 years. 200 years. Draw up a plan of what you will be doing, what the market will be like and how you got there. Better still, divide a large group into several teams of about five participants each. Have each team draw up a vision plan for the year 2106. Then bring everyone together and present the plans. Share and compare.

Getting beyond the usual one year, five year or even ten year business plan, puts you into the unknowable future. Without clear facts to guide you, you are left to your imagination to create a vision of that far future.

Nevertheless, some of the ideas you dream up for the next century may suggest realistic goals for the near future. Yet again, this is an imagination exercise that sometimes provides potential practical benefits.

innovation process, idea creation,  partnership, networks, / skills creativity, networking, problem-solving

Group  work, several groups, around 5 participants in each;

30-40 minutes;

Markers, paper, board or flipchart.

Jeffrey Baumgartner

100 Uses for Your Product/100 New Services

Link to the website

A classic creativity exercise is to find 100 uses for a brick, a bucket of water, a bathtub or any other commonplace object. Such exercises stretch your imagination. So, why not try the same, but using one of your products as the focus of the challenge? Get a group together and brainstorm 100 uses for the product.

If you are a service company, that may not be possible. Instead, brainstorm 100 new services you could offer using your existing resources.

This exercise not only stretches the imagination, but focuses it on a key component of your business and so can result in practical ideas which can readily be implemented. It’s rather like bicycling 10 km to the shops and back. Not only do you get exercise, but you get the shopping done as well.

innovation process, idea creation/ skills entrepreneurial, creativity, networking, problem-solving…)

Group  work, several groups or one big group

~ 30  minutes;

Markers, board or flipchart. Object (brick, a bucket of water, a bathtub or any other commonplace object)

Jeffrey Baumgartner


Link to the website

Trigger the imagination of your participants with a short discussion. Everyone needs to share 1 product or behaviour that will soon disappear. Example: “That it takes years to learn a new language.” – “Petrol cars with a human driver.”

It’s a great warm-up to frame innovation and how products are disrupted. There are always smart kids in the room that share some clever insights. Already from the first moment of the day, participants learned something new!

innovation process, idea creation, /, creativity

individual work, any amount of participants; 10-30 minutes; no resources needed


Customer journey

Link to the website

Start with a discussion (per table) to describe what 1 day or 1 month looks like for a specific client. Use this story to detect new needs.Depending on the format you can explore alternative solutions in the market or brainstorm to find new solutions.

idea creation, IP, partnership, networks, user-involvement…)/ skills entrepreneurial, creativity, networking, problem-solving

Group work, any amount of participants; several groups; ~30 minutes ; resources needed (paper, pens, board of flipchart)


Technology Triggers

Link to the website

Show your participants that we’re living in the future. Video demos with prototypes & lab tests can really inspire people. But be careful to select tech that is applicable to the domain you’re working in.

Trends can be a great source of inspiration to look for new opportunities. Every industry is challenged by other disruptions.  To kick-off another brainstorm round we start with a short presentation of eye-opening cases showing how the world is changing (relevant to the industry we’re focusing on).

The goal of this exercise is to link a small selection of trends (take 5) with specific market segments of the company. How does a trend  (the rise of data protection & privacy) impact a specific market (e.g. students & their parents). Each cross-section between a trend & market will trigger new business ideas or new problems to solve.

innovation process, idea creation, IP, user-involvement/ skills entrepreneurial, creativity, problem-solving

Group or individual work, any  amount of participants;  estimated time; resources needed (paper, pen, board of flipchart)



Link to the website

This particular exercise is suitable for groups that consist of 15 to 20 people. To perform it, you will need a quiz book and Power Point. To get started, build yourself two sets of questions on power point. Once you have finished putting together your questions, ask for two volunteers to help you with the activity. Your task then is to ask your two volunteers the questions that you’ve put together on Power Point.

The catch, however, is that the first set of questions will go to the first volunteer, who will have to answer them using their own knowledge or personal intuition, while the second set of questions are directed to the second volunteer, who can “ask the audience” for help on each round.

Needless to say, this activity is heavily in favor of the second volunteer. However, this is the entire point of the exercise. By giving the second volunteer the support of the rest of the team, the trainees will learn how groups behave when answering a particular question in contrast to lone individuals.

idea creation, IP, partnership, networks, user-involvement/ skills creativity, networking, problem-solving

Group and  individual work,  1 instructor; group of 15-20 and one individual player;

~20 minutes;

Board, projector, computer, Power Point.


The Secret Message

Link to the website

This particular activity is suitable for groups of 10 to 15 people. In this activity, you will need to think of a long sentence that’s very difficult to guess. Next, write one or two words of your sentence onto a piece of paper, and then distribute them to the members individually. Don’t worry about the number of words on each piece of paper. What matters is that everyone gets a piece of paper with one, two or even words on it. Also, instruct each member not to show his or her piece of paper to his or her team once they receive it.

Once all the members have their piece of paper, ask them to group themselves into pairs. Each pair may share their piece of information with each other. After a short amount of time, the group will have to form new pairs, and again, they have to share their information with their new partner. This process continues until one of the members or pairs guesses the entire sentence.

The goal of this activity is to help personnel appreciate the challenges of limited or inaccurate information. It also helps them appreciate the importance of partnerships when dealing with complex information.

idea creation,, partnership, networks, user-involvement/ skills creativity, networking, problem-solving

Groups of 10 to 15 people  ~30 minutes; resources needed (paper, pens or markers)