Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kanban Pizza Game - Lean, Meet Your Nemesis, the Bake Oven!

There's a new lean Pizza game out there called the Kanban Pizza game. Created by the people at, this kanban game bears more of a resemblance to Mr. Happy Face, then the VSM Pizza game. Instead of making paper heads, your team assembles pizza slices.

I have to admit that any game with Hawaiian pizza as a product choice is okay in my book!

Although developed from an IT background, the purpose of the Kanban Pizza Game goes beyond the software industry:
With the Kanban Pizza Game from agile42 you can find out how Kanban feels like. While common Kanban games are usually focussing only on the flow in an existing Kanban system, our new Kanban Pizza Game shows in addition how to get from an existing process to a Kanban system.
Like many lean training games, the Kanban Pizza game uses a phased approach. Start with an existing process, make pizza slices as fast as you can. Then introduce work-in-process limits and see how the process improves.

What I like about this game is that they've incorporated a wait time into one of the processes, the pizza oven! Many times we have to wait for something in our processes, whether it's a curing oven in manufacturing or a decision to be made in a service environment. It's hard to naturally fit this type of feature into a paper simulation, but the pizza oven is a good match.

The game documentation gives a decent overview of the process and how to run the Pizza Game, but lacks a detailed step by step instruction set. I'm sure you can easily divide up the work (cutting, gluing, colouring, baking) among the people in your training session, depending on the size of your group. The process steps don't matter so much in these games, as long as you can create a bottle neck somewhere, so the work builds up.

It would be nice to know how the pizza oven was physically represented. I've left a comment on their blog to see if they will divulge this information.

You can see a few pictures of the Kanban Pizza game in action on Flickr! And I think the oven is a just a letter-sized piece of paper.

Overall, I think this a great exercise to demonstrate the benefits of Pull systems vs batch production. Whether you're working in an IT environment or a manufacturing plant, these types of games are universal.

And afterwards you can order real pizza for the group!

Check out all the details for the Kanban Pizza game on, including a downloadable .pdf file.

I've found a little video of some people messing around with this game (or something very similar):

Update: There's even more descriptions, slides and pictures in my new post on the kanban pizza game. 

I've added this game to my collection of Lean training games.

Don't forget to drop in and say hello on my Introduce Yourself page!


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