Disruptive by Funnybone ToysAt Funnybone Toys, everyone shares a love of innovation and design, particularly when it is applied to games and toys. We founded Funnybone Toys in 2011 to create games and other products that would appeal to people in several different and unique distribution channels.

After launching a set of “art inspired” card games in 2012 that were sold in over 700 stores just months after they began shipping, we knew we wanted to have several products, and so we were constantly looking at what we would offer in 2013.

Our passion about innovation led to a need to learn more about the process and what the experts said about it. We combed countless articles in such publications as Harvard Business Review, and read more books on the subject, including one of our favorites ever: Disrupt by Luke Williams. In this book, Williams discussed how disruptive thinking has been used to create such innovations as car sharing programs (disrupting traditional car rental and even car purchase) and digital cameras (which have basically eliminated most film cameras from the mass-market camera industry).

We started using the concept of “disrupt” to think about product development. We looked at the concept of doing the opposite of what is expected – what convention tells people what will be successful – and could not stop thinking thinking about the concept of looking at an object or idea and think about an entirely different radical way to achieve the same end.

There is so much written today about the “next big thing”, what industries could be completely changed by innovation, and how innovative advancements in technology and other areas can be targeted at some of the world’s major problems. It occurred to us that none of these grand successes would be possible to sustain unless we have a continuous pipeline of creators, innovators, who live and breathe the ability to disrupt technology, or to imagine technology that could so something so noble and grand-sweeping as to save countless lives.

How are we going to keep that pipeline filled? We simply must teach innovation to children and make sure that innovation skills – that most children pick up so easily – are continually reinforced to adulthood, even to those students and employees who do not choose to enter a creative field. We also need to make sure that children – particularly girls – are introduced to the wonderful things they can achieve by focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) education and careers.

Then came our “A Ha” moment: We could put the concept of “disrupt” into a game…one that would appeal to children and could be used in classrooms with students from grade school through college.  We also wanted this game to be used as a tool for forward-thinking companies wanting to make sure that their employees stay fresh and able to innovate throughout their careers.

Disruptus® – The Game Designed to Open Every Mind – was born. The concept was to get players practicing how to innovate by using 100 simple, everyday objects or scenes, each depicted on a card. As the focus of the game, we broke down the concept of innovation into what we felt were four important parts – which then became the basic “moves” of the game:

  • CREATE2 Take element(s) from each of 2 different images and create a new object/idea
  • IMPROVE Look at an image and add or change elements to make the object/idea better
  • TRANSFORM Look at an image and place it into a different context where it gains a new purpose
  • DISRUPT Look at the picture, grasp what is the purpose, and come up with a completely different way to achieve the same purpose

In planning the images that would be used on the playing cards, we immediately thought of using objects (not words). Most of the objects came from culling books and from brainstorming with the creative team.

Artists and fashion designers were a big influence in the final developments of the game. For example, we added the “2” to Create, because we knew that objects can be combined to create different objects entirely different the two objects being combined – often fashion designers do this.

Artistically, we wanted to experiment with different treatments of the objects:

  • Icons
  • Sketches
  • Photos (snapshots)

Each different treatment also showed different levels of complexity of the image. The icons were simple, with few parts; the sketches had more elements to them; and most of the photos had several elements to focus on in terms of innovation opportunities.

In order to appeal to our wide target age of 10-99, we focused on both design (big cards, unusual die, beautiful box), as well as an innovative approach to game play description (a conversation between two animal characters that would be “campy” for adults and would “connect” with children).

The game was a huge success from its inception, and was endorsed by prominent business leaders, including the below:

Innovation and disruptive thinking skills are the roots of entrepreneurship and – in fact – all great business ideas. The Disruptus® game by Funnybone Toys® has taken all the building blocks of innovation and helps players of all ages increase their ability to think creatively…I can easily see this game being played everywhere, from the family table to the design studio to the boardroom.


Founder of BNI®, The World’s Largest Networking Organization®

“Disruptus® taps into the creative nature that lies dormant within each and every one of us. It’s a game pushing the boundaries of ideas, innovation, and creativity while making the entire experience fun.” 

~ Matt Crowe – Founder/CEO of AHHHA

It is our firm belief that people who can quickly Create, Improve, Transform, and Disrupt any object, at any time, will be the most successful in life. In a nutshell, that is why we created Disruptus. Practicing innovation while having fun at the same time makes it much easier to make the leap to creating something AMAZING!

[content note – this piece was originally published on the Innovation Excellencesite  on July 28, 2013]