Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lean Lego Game - 4 Rounds to Successful Lean Training

Watch your senior management scramble to sort Lego against the clock in this Lean Lego Game, designed to illustrate how Lean and Agile techniques can make your process more efficient. This proven Lego game was designed by Danilo Sato and Francisco Trindade and presented at Agile 2008 and 2009.

The large pack of files includes clear instructions and professional presentation material. Everything you need to run your own version of the game is included, except the bricks.

Covering many Lean concepts including waste (the seven wastes), inventory buffers and kanban, kaizen and workcells, it’s perfect for facilitating your own Lego session, whether you’re implementing Lean in software development or on a manufacturing shop floor.

This game runs for 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on whether you want to run the long or short version. The long version includes an extra iteration of the game.

In short:  Professional. Clear. Comprehensive. Adaptable.

Key Files:

  • Facilitator Guide
  • Slides (Long and Short Version)
  • Building Instructions
  • Team Instructions

The production quality of the game material is top notch. The facilitator's guide is easy to follow and the slides are approaching Steve Jobs-like quality (i.e. excellent).

With the emphasis on software development, it will fit right into your Agile training session, while some minor massaging of the material will be necessary for a manufacturing or other Lean environment.

The Game:

The game is played with 4 teams of operators who work different stations.

  1. First team sorts the Lego bricks into colours
  2. Second team sorts the bricks into different sizes (keeping colours separated)
  3. Third team sorts the bricks into specific lots required to build a Lego house
  4. Fourth team takes specified bricks and builds a house according to the instructions
Round 1 - Push System

Teams sort and build as fast as possible. Inventory piles up. Chaos ensues. Debrief. Discuss waste, inventory, 7 wastes, push vs pull, kanban.

Make sure you motivate your team with the included posters!

Round 2 - Pull system

Install buffer limits between stations and only build when buffers empty. Debrief. Discuss solving unleveled process and the concept of a work cell.

Round 3 - Work Cell

Simultaneous house construction in work cells. Debrief. Discuss concept of kaizen.

Round 4 - Kaizen

Kaizen. Teams allowed to change what they want to improve process. Conclusion and final debrief.

Here’s a video of the Lean Lego game in action:


Overall, this is a very well presented game. It has clear instructions and appears to be easy to teach people due to the simplicity. I love the push vs. pull approach between rounds 1 and 2. It clearly illustrates the benefits of Lean and reducing WIP.

Also, since the game can become quite frantic and fast-paced, it's actually an excellent form of stress management and could help people manage similar situations in the actual workplace.

In Round 3, the work cell concept is discussed and demonstrated clearly. I would have liked to see a break-up of the building of the house to level the process, rather than building 4 identical structures at the same time. Perhaps a 2 person work cell for building, each doing half a house would work better.

But I come from a manufacturing background, so perhaps that’s my own preconceptions bubbling to the surface! I’d be interested if anyone separated the building aspect into two parts as a kaizen during any of the sessions run at the Agile conferences.

You can request all the material to run your own session of this game from Danilo Sato or Francisco Trindade.

Here’s a photoset of the Lean Lego game being played on Flickr.

As always, please comment if you’ve had any experience playing this game or running a session. Also hop on over to the creators’ blogs and share your comments there.

I’ve added this game to my growing list of Lean games and simulations.


  1. Thanks for the feedback!

    Really glad that the game worked for you.


  2. The games looks awesome. I would like to use it in my organization, but I can't find the material that is mentioned in the text.

    Am I missing a link somewhere? If not, are the materials available in some other page?

    Thanks in advanced.

  3. Hi Jorge,
    This game isn't linked because it's only available upon request. If you go to Danilo Sato's blog, there is a link to email him for the material.
    This is his blog link:
    He is more than willing to share if you email him.
    And the game is still being actively supported! See this post from several days ago:

  4. How many bricks, colours, shapes would be needed?

  5. Thanks for the question!
    Each Lego "house" requires 16 bricks according to the instructions. Depending on how many of the houses are in process, you can determine the amount of bricks required. If you wanted to build 20 houses, you'll need 320 bricks. You may want more. They are basic shapes, but there are 5 types and you should have at least 4 colours to make it fun.

    For all the details, email the guys above for the instructions and spec sheet.

  6. Thanks for developping this game

  7. hi
    we are trying to implement lean technique in our organisation to do so we are plannig to train the people with such simulation game can u share contains of this game on mail (

  8. Hi,
    I am the Training Coordinator for Toyota Parts Centers in Australia and we are planning on using this game as a team building exercise for problem solving teams. The game is aligned with our principles, and I cannot wait to start!!! I have been looking for an excuse to play with lego at work!!!!

    Danilo has created a sensational program!!!

    Katie Pascoe

    1. Excellent to hear it, Katie. By the way, you never need an excuse to play with Lego ;)
      Be sure to let us know how it worked out!

  9. Hello there,

    we are starting with lean games in our company and this game seems to be great for teaching purposes. I would love to get the instructions and slides.


  10. I am teaching an introduction to software engineering and would like to know more about your growing list of lean games and simluations. But the link you offer did not work: Can you send this to me please?

    1. Hi Bryan,
      It looks like that's an old link that I forgot to update. I've fixed it now, but you can also access the page from the links in the sidebar.
      Here's the correct link: Huge list of free lean games and simulations!

  11. Hy Francisco,
    I and others 2 my colleagues are doing an activity as volunteers at a high school near Rome (Italy). The goal is to teach kids the basics of project management. We would like to use your game "Lean Lego Game" to bring the boys to the principles of Lean and Agile in a fun way. If you agree you may send us the material needed for the game? Can you confirm what the terms of use of the game and that it is free and requires no fee?
    Thanks in advance.
    Kind Regards, Alessandra.

    1. Just to be clear.. I'm not the author of this game. Feel free to contact the authors directly using the info above.

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Skornia Hello! Can you tell me where I can get specific instructions on how to facilitate the Lego Game?

  13. Hi, I am a teaching an operations management class and I would like to use the lean lego game.
    However, the seems that the blog has been discontinued. Can someone send me information about the lean lego game?
    Many thanks! My e-mail is:

  14. I'm a training coordinator at my company. I'm very interested in this training simulation. I have tried to email Danilo. He hasn't responded. Is there someone else I can email for this material and if its free?

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