WHILE working as an Education Officer at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, Craig Browne was assisting in some research that was being done to test museum visitors' attitudes to ideas the museum had for a new exhibition. Visitors were given a pile of pictures cut-out from magazines and asked to find images that they thought showed the type of things they expected to see in the new exhibition.
"As I watched the people filing through these images, I was struck by their absolute concentration and obvious delight in finding suitable images to represent their point of view.
People who had not been saying much started sharing ideas and even asking questions of others. I said to myself, there's got to be a game in this! What followed was several years of trial and error, prototyping, testing and trying to get game companies to take notice. In the end we started our own little company, Compatability Pty Ltd and set out to market the game ourselves. As fate would have it, while meeting with the toy and game buyer for a major retail chain we were introduced to the MD of the well-known Australian games company, Crown & Andrews. In the meeting that followed the game was accepted.
We licensed the board game to, Crown & Andrews, who launched it in Australia in 1995. Compatibility was then licensed to Mattel and introduced to the world at the New York Toy Fair at the start of the 1996, with a fanfare promotion that involved Ivana Trump and Ed Koch (the then New York mayor). Mattel launched the game into the US, UK and French markets in September of that year.
The game was eventually translated into 6 languages, released in 12 countries worldwide, won several industry awards and sold more than half a million copies.
Now, while all this exciting stuff was happening around the world with Mattel, my partner, Leonie Cutts, and I were beginning to play with the idea of using the image cards in training, facilitation and face-to-face communication. Our backgrounds are in education, training and management so it was a natural progression.
Initially we used the system primarily as a conference ice-breaker, to get people focused, ready to participate and work cooperatively. However we quickly came to recognise the extraordinary ease with which this unique collection of images was able to generate open and honest communication in just about any face-to-face session.
So, we set about creating a range of products for professional facilitators we now call, the Compatibility Communication System, or CCS."
Having been reprinted many times since its first release, versions of the Compatibility board game are still available in selected toy stores around the world. And the popularity of the CCS as a versatile personal and corporate communication tool, continues to spread further every year. There product has been used by thousands of participants and facilitators in more than 70 countries.