At first sight, Kanban looks deceptively simple. You visualise your workflow, put some work-in-progress limit to every stage, and that’s it!
This is indeed the basics for any succesful Kanban. But why are these two principles the driving force behind Kanban? And how can we teach people these basics in a way that they understand the principles, not only know them by heart?
A two hour game
That is what the Kanban Game accomplishes.In a relatively simple game that takes two hours, participants are stimulated to discuss and understand the underpinnings of Kanban, helping them to become more agile and ultimately more succesful in their business.
The game takes place in five rounds, each focusing on a specific topic:
- Round 1: solving bottlenecks to obtain smooth flow. Work-in-progress limits to help solve bottlenecks.
- Round 2: market variability and agility and the value of stock.
- Round 3: the effect of training: deeper expertise for optimal flow. Broader expertise to limit dependency on disturbances.
- Round 4: process disturbances and how to obtain smooth flow even in unstable environments
- Round 5: kanban, the big picture. How to transfer what we have learned to the real world.
Apart from these five specific topics, following topics will be brought up during the discussions more than once:
- Visualising workflow: why it is important and why it is equally important to keep the visualisation in synch with reality
- Importance of communication and island work versus team work
- Expertise in the head and hands of a limited number of people
- FTE: are people just “resources”? is “adding people” a way to achieve higher production?
Besides that, participants will gain an in-depth knowledge about origami frogs
The Frog Factory – a Kanban game can be downloaded and used for free. However,
- when you want to share the game with others, please only link to this website. Regularly, new versions will be published so don’t copy the files.
- When you use the game, please give me feedback (agile is all about quick feedback, remember?) so that I can improve the game. Also, ideas for extensions and the like are welcome. Do use the comment button below this page.
- The software and material is provided as is, without any warranty. Use it at your own risk. For example, if playing this game changes your beliefs about how to run complex business processes, don’t blame me.
- Also, honor my copyright. Constructing and improving this game has been lots of work and I provide it for free, so please at least refer to this website when using the game. Posts about the game on other websites are encouraged!
- the game can be played by 6 to 20 people, divided in two equal teams. If the number of participants is odd, a correction applies (automatically calculated by the spreadsheet) apart from the teams, there is one instructor and if possible, an assistant.
- you need a suitable room with a whiteboard, if possible two computers and a beamer, per participant about 12 square origami papers in three colors and four bins per team (any recipient is okay as long as you can put some paper frogs in it)
- room setup: project the spreadsheet with the results and use the other computer for the counter. Put it in the middle so that teams can see the progress of the rounds. There is also a sound signal so constant visual contact with the timer is not needed.
→ Download the FrogFactory (zip file, 1 MB, no installation necessary – just download, extract and access the files via Explorer)
What’s in the zip file
Basically, almost everything you need is provided:
- the instructor’s manual, of which you need one copy.
- the frog construction manual, which you need to copy once per team
- the experience sheet, for which you need one copy per participant
- the spreadsheet to keep the points
- a template for a big six sided die (of course you can also use a normal die if you don’t want to make a die with cardboard and glue)
- Separate download: the frog counter application that keeps the timing of the rounds
Thanks to Sven, Serge, Peter, Christophe, Kurt, Bart, Annemie, Gunther, Griet and Nadine for volunteering to test the first version of the game.
See also this post about a Kanban game.