New Kanban simulation game “Featureban”

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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.

blah

In terms of materials, it requires a simple four-column board and a good supply of suitably-sized sticky notes. I use 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 conference lounge, and the rules evolved as we played. Cozy!

Like the Kanban Values Exercise, Featureban is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You can download the  PDFs here, and ping me at mike@djaa.com 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.

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4 Responses to "New Kanban simulation game “Featureban”"
  • Deepak October 2, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Simple but very good.

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  • Katrina December 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Hi! Looks like a very interesting exercise – I feel like I’m missing some instruction details however such as:

    1) Does every team member have a coin or multiple coins?
    2) Does every team member toss their coin at the same time or as many times as possible?
    3) What constitues a ‘day’ – each coin toss or a time box?

    Thanks for your help!

    Katrina

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  • Mike Burrows December 4, 2014 at 12:46 am

    HI Katrina,

    One coin per person, and it’s best that they throw them at the same time. The latest deck now says “Players toss coins, share outcomes with colleagues in a team meeting, then move accordingly”. After they’ve all moved, that’s a day completed.

    Hope that helps! I’m now working on a minibook (a companion to Kanban from the Inside) describing Featureban, the values exercise and a couple of other tools in some detail. Watch this space…

    Mike

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  • Norbert January 4, 2016 at 3:36 am

    Hello,

    Thanks for sharing the game but in this form it is a bit too simple to understand Lean and the key concept of kanban I think.

    Did You hear about the lean airplane simulation game?
    Though the airplane simulation game is much longer but it could explain much better the concept of kanban and You can conbine with the 7 wastes, 5S program, visualization, poka yoke or one piece flow…

    Anyway thanks for sharing :-)

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