Open, Explore and Close the world

by Yeevon Ooi on 14 June 2011

I’m in the middle of reading Gamestorming – A playbook for innovators, rule breakers, and changemakers, a book that discusses the concept of games to help communication and idea generation in organisations. I couldn’t agree more with the really simple concept presented by this book, it seems to be one which we use in day to day conversation but is often forgotten when under pressure at work.

A simplified summary of this concept based on my understanding goes like this: If you open the world and explore the world, you need to close the world.

So, what does this actually mean? In day to day we use this method naturally, such as example 1 below:

1. A simple example:

  • Open the world – “Hello”
  • Explore the world – “Can I have a bottle of water please?”
  • Close the world – “Thank you”

However, when situations are more complex with many different trails of thought and outcomes required, for instance in meetings at work, the situation looks more like this in example 2:

2. A complex example

  • Open the world – “We need to determine the guidelines for the report by the end of today”
  • Explore the world – (discussion discussion discussion brainstorming brainstorming brainstorming)“…we still need information from XYZ  … we need to compile some data on ABC … the FGH depends on the DEF so we need to make sure we prepare the LMN before we start doing the QRS …”

Now, the open and explore parts of the theory are easily done, but do you practice the close part? If you’ve ever been involved in discussions like this, you know that the conversation can go on and on or around in circles without coming to an end. This is when this simple concept kicks in with a basic mantra: If you’ve opened the world and explored it, close it even if it means you haven’t done what you aimed for. Otherwise it’s difficult to move on to the next thing.

So, what would this look like for the above complex example?

  • Close the world – “We seem to have underestimated this task … we won’t be able to finalise the guidelines by today. Let’s make sure we get information from XYZ, compile data on ABC, prepare the LMN and discuss this again at the same time tomorrow.”

The idea is, if we open the world, we need to close the world so that we can move on even if it means putting something aside for later on. This is even more important when a conversation involves a group of people. It’s always difficult to follow others’ train of thought during complex discussions – which is why this open, explore and close world concept might come in handy the next time you’re stuck in one!

Has any one else read this book or about this concept? Let us know in the comments!

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