About the idea that became this game
After working in the field for over a decade across large companies and startups alike, and delivering talks and consulting engagements to dozens of clients, it became apparent that while the many parts that make innovation work are well researched and rather well understood, the relationship and movement between these parts isn’t.

Most literature, including the academic kind (I’ve researched the topic quite a bit while preparing to teach innovation as a discipline to MBA students) tends to isolate one aspect of the problem, and issue broad-sweeping recommendations with little regard for the variety of contexts in which innovators operate.

Pitching one particular tool or methodology isn’t particularly harmful but isn’t helpful either. Even a complete set of tools without regards to the organization current maturity level, culture, resources, or obstacles, is a very sub-optimal approach.

This game, in its first version, is an attempt at recreating the interaction between the many facets of innovation, by assembling assets into projects, while facing constraints and a timeline inspired by “crawl, walk, run” and its consulting-speak equivalent “horizon 1, 2, and 3”.

The game focuses on a wide net of factors and facets that either foster or hamper innovation, trading depth in any given facet for the nuance that comes from the interaction between them, and the the strategic expertise in combining them for best results.
This is a long in the making side project to create a fun new learning approach to the discipline of innovation
Above all, this game is a tool to help players and students alike develop a strategic mindset towards innovation. To the extent possible, every aspect of the game is meant to be influenced by real life. From the conditions required to pick up or use certain cards, to their order of appearance in the game or their unique costs, risks and rewards, every detail is meant to be grounded in logic that can be related to how innovation works outside of the card deck.

For instance, players can only have a maximum of 7 asset cards on hands, to illustrate the fact that companies are loath to keep resources idling (“use it or lose it” is a familiar saying to anyone that’s ever managed a budget). Some of the more sophisticated tools or processes can’t be used until later parts of the game.

Finally, this game wouldn’t work if it didn’t follow basic tenets of gaming, therefore despite the filter of realism and the focus on learning, some concessions were made to balance the strength of cards, bend the initial rules, and optimize playability to improve the fun factor.

The Innovators:
How a Group of Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
Giving forward and teaching as objective #1
To make this game more accessible, I’ve ported its content to the free online tabletop gaming platform Tabletopia here, distributed a PDF version for players to print their own here, and created a companion app there.
All illustrations, including those containing brands and logos are sourced from the phenomenal resource that is undraw.co – Copyright 2019 Katerina Limpitsouni (nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use the assets provided from unDraw)
All icons are sourced from https://icons8.com/, in some cases with modifications under the terms of their free license (hence this link)
The digital version (pdf to download and print yourself) is free to play, you can otherwise buy the professionally produced card deck (see "Shop"), or contact [email protected] or [email protected] if you plan to incorporate it into a paid facilitated workshop.

Mathieu Guerville