Netherlands-Based De Gouden Ananas Takes Board Games Into The Business World

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Sayna de Voogd, the founder of De Gouden Ananas, found a new approach to traditional board games. Used to identify target audiences and roles within teams, the board game eliminates prejudices and becomes suitable for the business world:

How would you describe De Gouden Ananas (Golden Pineapple) in a few words?

We are a marketing and innovation company that dares to be different. And we help our customers to be different too. We do so by visualizing important phases of our advice as well as implementing serious gaming and dashboarding.

Netherlands-Based De Gouden Ananas Takes Board Games Into The Business WorldPart of your services includes the board game Doelgroepen-spel (Discovering the Target Audience Game). What inspired you to create the game? How does it fit in with your marketing and innovation agenda?

Well, to be fair it all began because I wanted to standardize my questions during the target audience finding sessions. I started creating question cards – but that became boring very quickly and missed the objective of involving the customer and internal stakeholders in important decisions. I created an MVP of the game within a few hours instead – created on a Friday and first played the following Tuesday. Of course, it was far from perfect, however, it worked.

It was more fun and above all, we gained more interesting input from our customers. This prevents the discussion of why you should choose target group A or B because we discover target audiences based on a company’s drivers, identity, and objectives. Furthermore, I love involving employees in marketing as marketing and branding are not add-ons but a core element in a company’s operations. If we create a fancy message which is immediately de-valuated by the contact of a customer with an employee it is a waste of time and money. So, why not involve them from the beginning? We work solely in the service provider industry, which makes employees an even bigger part of the brand experience – this is why we involve everyone in the best way possible.

How does the game work and who are the people it is recommended for?

The Discovering the Target Audience Game is played as a board game or floor game, depending on the size of the group (4-20 players). It is important that the players both have management and operational positions. The key of the game is to find the target audiences that best fit the company’s ambition (objectives), people and brand identity – so that they are all aligned to get the best fit in new customers. The game leader stimulates creativity and everybody’s input. After brainstorming we choose 2-3 target audiences. The game contains role-playing, chance cards, quizmaster questions, prioritizing based on money, passion etc. It also creates insights into the presumptions about the target groups and shows the best fit according to colleagues.

The game also contributes to identifying certain roles within a team. Which roles are we talking about and in what ways does this help teams to innovate?

The game is very helpful when it comes to getting to know people – how they think and act. The role-playing within the game also integrates the de Bono thinking heads, which shows the different ways people think and act. Additionally, it gives insights into how stakeholders need to be addressed. So, within a team, it might not be the head of the team that is the best fit for certain stakeholder management but another team member. Our game helps to define the preferences of team members. What are their (individual) goals? What does success mean to them? This is why we also use the game for team building when a customer requests to do so.

Are you playing the game internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the development team?

Actually, we recently did, because we are working on some innovations ourselves. We don’t have a big innovation team, however, we played it with our team. In a short time, it created insights into the importance of some basic points. But also the variation in knowledge of certain target groups across colleagues and the assumptions made about those target groups. It gave great insight into the way colleagues think about themselves and others and act.

What can you tell us about your success so far? Any numbers you can share?

We are a small company. We incorporate the serious game in our advice just as visual aids to express and show the topic of an strategic advice. Our business model is still highly ‘old school’ agency style. We are currently investigating the possibilities of disruptively innovating to a scalable business model. During the past years, the company has always grown variating from 20-55% percent per year.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced so far?

When the game was first introduced entrepreneurs found it cool, however, also weird as no agency was using a game – and certainly not for such an important part of the strategy. So, getting potential customers to go with our unconventional way of strategic advising was a challenge. Implementing the game – like I wrote – a lot of entrepreneurs and managers find it awesome – but to integrate it into their strategy is a bit scary. These days it is a fixed part of our strategic advising process and well-received. Furthermore, as every growing business: more customers, embedding the brand within the team, making the brand more about us and less about me, the entrepreneur.

What’s next for De Gouden Ananas?

The scalable business model. As an entrepreneur, I envision an ideal world in which employees are happy and bring their happiness home. They are happy because they work at awesome companies, for awesome entrepreneurs and they add value because they are part of the success plan of the entrepreneur. To enable this, we need more than the model we are currently working with – nothing wrong with it but there is always a way to improve 🙂

What’s one piece of advice you can give to founders and innovators?

Keep in touch with yourself. You founded the company or implemented your innovation due to a clear vision of what could be done better compared with the current business.



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