Mon 21 Apr 2008
My spoken French is more or less limited to menu items and courtesy phrases. I’m better at comprehension, but unable to express myself to my own satisfaction in a business setting. One of the challenges of the managing the tutorial at WIF 2008, was that this session was held in Limoges, France.
As a tutorial leader, I might have been out of luck, but I was ably assisted by two professional interpreters. In a room of about 35 people, I estimate that there were 6-8 French speakers; the remainder were willing to work in English. Among them were native speakers of perhaps 4-5 additional languages, but English was the lingua franca for most.
After a brief introduction about design games in the product development process, and Innovation Games® in particular, we broke into groups to create “Product Boxes.” I said, but perhaps not forcefully enough, that people could work alone or in small groups. When Product Box starts, people dig into the materials and start making their sketches and notes. They probably weren’t paying close attention to me (nor, in this case, the interpreter).
In the midst of the game play one participant approached me through the interpreter, identifying himself as a game designer. He announced that “teams are the enemy of freedom.” Either this was very deep and philosophical statement, or there was a simpler interpretation that I was overlooking. Asking for clarification, I realized that he didn’t want to work with the people he happened to share a table and language community with: he wanted to create on his own.
The ideas fly freely (into?) out of the head!
Are teams the enemy of freedom? I might agree that teams constrain individual freedom, but I’m also a subscriber to the aphorism “many hands make light work” (there must be French for this one!). There’s more to say about games as focused toward individuals, groups or teams, but I’ll save that for another occasion.