The kanban silly tasks game

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In this game, you will learn and experience the lean principles and the use of the kanban board. You will experience the problems with delayed tasks and long feedback loops, frequent task switching, the possibilities of reducing different types of waste, WIP limits, and the pull principle.

Timing: Expected time to run game including prep and debrief

1 hour

Materials:

  • Task cards
  • Flip-over (Kanban board)
  • Paper for folding hats
  • Stopwatch (on screen)
  • Balloons (inflatable to at least 60 cm circumference.)
  • The Kanban silly task tickets (see jpg. image at the bottom of this post)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tools, supplies and environment

Per team: 3 tables, 1 white board (or flip-over charts)

Instructions:

Team formation:

Teams of 2 developers, 2 testers (reviewers) and 1 product owner (the instructor)

How to run the game

Round 1

Start with approx. 10 tasks and let them work on these for 10 minutes.

Don’t mention timeboxes, as the 10 minutes will only be used for comparing round 1 and 2.

Do not explain them about Lean or Kanban yet. Let them experience first!

  • No Kanban board yet
  • All tasks are developed individually: Product owner gives tasks to developers, when a task is ready he or she passes the task to the test table.
  • Separate the tables on which the work with a good distance: One table for developers, one for testers and one for all “done” tasks
  • Product owner provides new tasks and switches priorities. Cause regular task-switching. Overload the team members with tasks!!
  • The product owner will sometimes ask for extra reviews
  • The product owner will change priorities regularly (make sure there are many tasks in progress at the same time)
  •  The product owner can add more business value to the tasks (at first they are all equal)
  • Developers and testers write down Start time and Finish time on Kanban tickets
  • Developers write down on each Kanban ticket how many minutes and seconds they work on a task. Testers do the same. Then calculate total time worked on the item.
  • Calculate Lead time (how long it takes, on average to get through the system)
  • Calculate the process time (time actually worked on the item)
  • For example, there are 2 developers and 2 testers who work on this for 10 minutes. This gives 4×10 man minutes.  Let’s say the total process time for all tasks that were handled was 18 min.

After round 2 compare and see how much improvement there is.

Retrospective I

Make sure they discuss the following questions:

  • What went well, what didn’t go well and what should improve?
  • Have them think about how to improve lead times.
  • Are the acceptance criteria clear?
  • Is the Definition of Done clear?
  • Is there enough interaction with the product owner and between team members?

Explain the lean and kanban principles.

  • Have them come up with improvement ideas. How can they eliminate waste?
  • Let them prepare and implement specific improvement ideas. (WIP limits, pull principle, tables close together etc.)

Round 2

Start with the next tasks and let them work on these for 10 minutes.

  • Developers and testers write down Start time and Finish time on Kanban tickets
  • Developers write down on each Kanban ticket how many minutes and seconds they work on a task. Testers do the same. Then calculate total time worked on the item.
  • Calculate Lead time (how long it takes, on average to get through the system)
  • Calculate the process time (time actually worked on the item)
  • Compare with the first round

Retrospective II

Conclusions

Learning Points:

  • Experience and understand the problems with frequent task switching
  • Experience and understand dependencies between developers/testers/others
  • Experience and understand the problems with delayed tasks  and long feedback loops
  • Experience and understand the possibilities of reducing different types of waste
  • Understand the importance of establishing WIP limits and the pull principle

Discussion and facilitation guidance

As trainer or coach, you will take the role of product owner and you can provide several teams with a supply of kanban tickets.

Make sure they write down start and end times for each ticket.

Review the learning point together.

Here are the kanban tickets:

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