My path from game design to product innovation

Today, a colleague of mine – who knows me from my work in gaming – asked me how I went from in-demand game designer to product innovation coach. I wanted to share with you the story of my evolution.

I’ve been working at the intersection of social games, apps & services for two decades. At Shufflebrain, we’ve had dozens of clients — game studios, entertainment & technology companies, startups, media conglomerates – all seeking to build something new. Our clients bring us in early — to educate & inspire the team, to kickoff a new project or major redesign/extension of an existing project. They count on our skills and leadership to help bring innovative projects to life.

A handful of our early-stage projects – eBay, Ultima Online, Rock Band, The Sims, Rush Hour (toy), Bejewelled 2, Happify, and Covet Fashion – went on to become genre-defining hits. We didn’t know upfront that they’d become breakout hits. In fact, those eventual hits often seemed ragged, problematic and semi-chaotic during early development.

It turns out that’s exactly the point. There’s a method to the madness of breakthrough innovations – and a collection of habits and attitudes we can all adopt – whether we’re building games, products, apps, toys or services. Innovation is crucial, sometimes elusive, and hard to do well. Lean startup ideas are inspiring but often fail in practice when real cultural change is required.

We all can learn a lot by following in the footsteps of breakthrough innovators – the teams who’ve created genre-defining products, games & services.  I’ve identified the habits and practices shared by ALL the hyper-successful innovators I’ve worked with. MVP Design Hacks is an online coaching program for entreprenurial teams who want to adopt these practices and dramatically accelerate their early product development.