There is now a definitive place to go for Featureban. Read all about it: Featureban’s new home (blog.agendashift.com)
October 9, 2015
June 26, 2015
It’s about time I posted the notes I email to people who ask about facilitating Featureban, so here goes…
Here’s a link to the latest powerpoint: (withheld – I’m happy to share but do please email me for this)
You might find it helpful to take a look at the slideshare embedded in Are we there yet?. Take advantage of the Creative Commons licensing and make your own customisations or translations! The checklists shown in the deck are now available via Agendashift in the Values-based Delivery assessment template, the basis for the Depth of Kanbanland 2015 survey.
Time priorities depend very much on needs, goals and audience. Typically I do either:
- Rounds 1 and 2 and a “here’s one I prepared earlier” on round 3, plus lots of time for Q&A on all things Kanban and Agile (the sessions I’m running at my current client are positioned as Agile training)
- All three rounds with a few minutes debrief for each
In the last meetup I did, I achieved #1 above in about 75 minutes. Your mileage may vary. The job of the debrief is to let people make the connection with the workplace.
There is now an fourth round which I use only when I have a couple of hours available (eg in a workshop). One option is to discuss this round without actually trying it.
I make a point of comparing the rules of round 1 and round 2; everyone should agree before playing round 2 that the only change is the WIP limit. I’m careful not to use the word “collaboration” myself until participants make the key observation that this improves significantly in round 2.
Stop round 1 as soon as most teams have delivered a couple of items. Most teams will have lots of WIP in the 2nd column. DO NOT reset boards between rounds 1 & 2. Advise teams to hold replenishment events when their backlogs become depleted. In later rounds, they might reuse “done” tickets to save time.
A WIP limit of 3 in round 2 works well. The fact that the limit is imposed by the facilitator rather than proposed by the team can be discussed later when you get to “improve experimentally, evolve collaboratively” (CP6) in the debrief.
One other tip I heard first from a couple of other facilitators and have now tested myself: the atmosphere and interaction around the game is improved if the board is mounted vertically (eg using a flipchart or taped to a wall). It means there’s less time staring down at a table!
April 22, 2015
As seems to be the tradition, I was the opening speaker at Monday’s London Lean Kanban Day 2015, organised by Jose Casal and hosted by the BCS in London. My talk gathers together a few strands that appear on positiveincline.com from time to time:
- Depth assessments – evolved quite a bit (with help) since this post
- Four of the nine values – transparency, balance, flow, and collaboration
- The book – chapter 23 in particular (still a few weeks away if you’re following the series of short extracts)
Chapter 23 describes a process I’m now calling “Agendashift”. The deck (below) is I think its first public outing:
March 2, 2015
I’ve recently facilitated a number of Featureban sessions:
- A series of internal sessions at the Skills Funding Agency
- At the Coventry and local area Agile Meetup
- At the London Limited WIP Society
This coming Thursday evening I’ll be in Derby, the guest of Agile Derby. It’s not often that I get to do Kanban-related stuff so close to home, so I’m delighted!
I’ve made some updates to the deck:
- Encouragement in slide 5 for players to discuss their moves in a “standup” meeting.
- “One of” and “Both” in slide 5 and what is now slide 8 are shown in bold. These are easily missed if not emphasised by the facilitator.
- An additional debrief slide after each of the first two rounds, mentioning over the course of the two rounds all six core practices and their corresponding values (five out of nine). Feedback on this change has been very positive.
In the second debrief, facilitators should draw a distinction between visual management and the operation of true kanban systems. I make a point not to mention “collaboration” until it is mentioned from the floor (which it will, without fail). The likely mention of “multitasking” is the invitation to discuss how we have succeeded in limiting work in progress across the whole flow, and why that’s important.
A French translation is now available and a German translation is in the works; ping me for an introduction if you need one. If you’d like to make a new translation or any other derivative work you don’t actually need my permission (Featureban is published under a sufficiently friendly license) but do drop me a line if you’d like the original PowerPoint slides rather than the PDFs (see the Resources link above).
November 28, 2014
For the uninitiated, Featureban is a simple and fun kanban simulation game.
There is now a metrics spreadsheet (xls):
If you or players change the rules in the interests of flow that’s fine, but bear in mind that the flow efficiency calculation assumes that work items require a touch time of two days. Today’s team cheated for a while and ended up with a calculated flow efficiency of 111%!
Fun (almost) guaranteed!
August 29, 2014
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.