Monday, September 19, 2011

Making Lean Reference Cards - A Lean Game that Never Ends!

The problem with many lean games is they produce waste. That's right! Most games designed to teach lean concepts, like how to eliminate waste, actually end up creating waste. How many times have you finished a Lego simulation, then asked everyone to take apart their Lego pieces and put them back box? Or worse, after folding a bunch of origami cranes or paper airplanes, thrown them all into the recycling bin? Waste!

Fortunately someone has considered this problem and come up with a solution! Introducing the Never Ending Card Simulation! With a name like that you might conclude that the solution is never to stop the game, then you don't have to clean up, but it's a little more clever than that.

In the Never Ending Card Simulation, you actually create something of value during the game. The end product isn't a lego car, or origami frog. It's a lean reference card!

This video introduces the Never Ending Card Simulation game and explains how the card works:

As you can see from the video, "never ending" refers to the type of reference card, not the game. The card is like an Escher drawing. You can keep opening it and eventually you get back to the beginning. It opens up forever.

The simulation comes complete with all files necessary to run the game, including detailed work instructions and a video instruction by a 10 year old.

So what do I think?

I love the lean reference cards. I'd be flipping through them continuously, after the game is over, so they're a good take away for your participants.

The instructions don't tell you how to facilitate the game, but if you head over to the actlean site, you'll find another video of a session in action, so you can get tips from there, particularly on how to switch from batch to pull production.

The Never Ending Card Simulation is a perfect process to break up and analyze. In the video they use special tools for cutting and scoring the cards, you could probably get away with running this game with a pair of scissors.

The only thing missing for me is a bit of model variation. For a game of this complexity, I'd like to see different lean reference cards being made, so that customer demand could be varied. That way the true benefit of kanban and buffers shine through.

The Never Ending Card Simulation is a complete package. All you need to run the game is available on the actlean website. I might try to make the Never Ending Card myself, just to have one of these nifty lean reference cards.

I've added this lean game to my huge list of lean games and simulations.