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Features combat

Field of application

#Idea improvement
#Product design
#Service design
#Process design
#Creativity skills development


Resume / Brief description

Features combat uses competition between teams to find new possibilities to innovate a product or a service. Each team focuses on radically changing a specific feature or characteristic of the product (or service) to make it the most impressive and powerful possible. Then we will have a clear vision on what feature has the most potential. 



  • Problem reframing
  • Ideation
  • Idea optimization
Target group
  • Entrepreneurs
  • I&D teams
  • Innovation teams
  • Students
  • Community


Group size

4 to 30 people



To find ways to re-invent products or services in order to build competitive differentiators




  • Paper cards or Adhesive notes
  • Masking tape
  • Pens, colors, markers
  • a digital board (Google jamboard, Microsoft board, Miro or other)
  • drawing or designing sofware or platform


  • 20 to 180 minutes
Implementation - Overview

The Features combat includes the following steps:
- Defining the product or service to transform
- List of features
- Organization of teams
- Feature assignment
- Design marathon
- Versions presentation
- Winner definition


Implementation - Guidelines

1. The game starts by defining the product or the service to be re-designed. It can be an actual product or service or a new concept just in validation phase.
2. Instruct the group to make a list of features, characteristics or specifications that the product or service has. Each one must be written down on a paper card and put on the wall for all the participants to read it.
3. Organize the features in order of importance. The entire group discusses to define the most important features which go in the upper part of the wall. It must be at least as many important features as the quantity of teams playing. Number those features. The other features go in the lower part without numbering.
4. Divide the group into teams of 2 to 5 people.
5. Randomly assign a feature to each team.
6. Ask the teams to re-design the product or service in a way that become really outstanding. The trick is... they can change only the assigned feature. All the other characteristics must remain the same.
7. Allow the teams to present their final version of the product or service showing how they changed the assigned feature. To define the winner, a group of external judges (even real clients) can be invited to rate these new versions.
8. As a group you must define which features offer the most possibilities to add value in a innovative way.

The activity provides a new vision of the possibilities that a certain product or service offers to delight the market with new versions of it, but more importantly , helps to clarify which features or characteristics offer the most pottential to do it.


Example of application:

A company that produces mattresses and pillows applied the Features combat tool to find possibilities to innovate in its mature and highly competitive market. The teams were formed to include at least one person from production, marketing and logistics areas. This helps the teams take into account all possible details and assure more viable solutions. Each team was completed with an internal or external designer who could draw the concepts proposed by the team.
The facilitator used a real mattress to build the features list. The participants placed Post-its naming the different features directly on the mattress, leaned against one of the walls of the room. Then, using adhesive dots, the participants voted for the most important features.
The selected features were put into a opaque bag so each team could take one randomly.
Teams had 1,5 hours to design up to 3 versions of the mattress changing just the feature showed on the note. Teams went out of the room to conduct this creative part of the session.
Each team was offered the possibility to change the feature assigned with any other they want from the "less important" features still adhered to the mattress. This will give extra points to that team. Just one team accepted the deal.
Once time was up, the teams returned to the room and presented its designs.
A judges table including the general and commercial manager, valued the propositions and assigned points.
It was a really productive session. Some of the concepts were asked to be transformed into real development projects for future products. And, for future opportunities, the team will have a good understanding of the possibilities offered by each feature of an apparently simple object as a mattress.
The winner team was awarded with the Features combat trophy and their picture was placed on the communication boards all over the company.


Templates, Graphics for download N/A
Additional format/references