I have two speaking engagements in September, a Lean conference in Belfast organised by the regional development agency Invest Northern Ireland titled “Driving Competitiveness through Continuous Improvement” on the 9th, and a return to Lean Agile Scotland in Edinburgh on the 11th and 12th. At both events I have extended workshop sessions which allow me to give what will be the third and fourth outings to a new Kanban simulation game, Featureban (I launched it at this year’s Kanban Leadership Retreat and used it again with minor modifications at a recent Train-the-Trainer).
Featureban is a fun way for small groups to try out some basic visual management (visualisation + feedback loops), and then experience the dramatic effect of adding work-in-progress limits to create working kanban systems. It’s also possible to add in metrics (there are instructions included for that already) or to connect multiple systems together (sorry, you’re on your own there). It should be easy to add other elements too; I would recommend that you introduce those in later rounds of the game.
For the second round, a WIP limit of 3 works well for teams of 5-6. If there are 4 or more items in the third column you could increase the limit for larger teams, but I wouldn’t go higher than 4. Use your judgement, and of course the same applies to smaller teams (set the limit too low, and blockers will dominate).
When time is limited, turn the metrics round into an exercise of the imagination. Have some outputs pre-prepared.
In terms of materials, it requires a simple four-column board and a good supply of suitably-sized sticky notes. I’m taking with me to Belfast and Edinburgh some boards ready-printed on A3 card (but a hand-drawn flipchart works fine too) and some small (51mm x 38mm) sticky notes. For the first ever run, we huddled around a sheet of A4 paper in the retreat’s lounge, and the rules evolved as we played. Cozy!
In the Edinburgh session on STATIK especially, we will even use Featureban to illustrate the change process in action. It’s all part of my preparations for a new 1-day exec-level class that gives exposure to everything I have come to regard as “first class” elements of the Kanban Method (principles, practices, values, agendas, the Kanban lens, STATIK, etc) . If your organisation is based in or within easy reach of the UK and would like to host an early version of such a class, drop me a line. (No, I’m not ready to schedule public classes just yet, and when I do, it may be in partnership with other LKU members.)
Following the very positive feedback I received on releasing the Kanban Values Exercise under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, I’m doing the same with Featureban, with the PDFs downloadable here.
Ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get hold of the original PowerPoint files. The same license applies to these files too but it’s really nice when people let me know what they’re doing with them. For example, I know that Ruben Olsen (@RubenOlsen) is already working a Norwegian translation.
Thanks to Ruben and to Jose Casal (@jose_casal) for their feedback on previous iterations.