Showing posts with label office. Show all posts
Showing posts with label office. Show all posts

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mr. Happy Face - Showing the Difference between Push and Pull Systems With a Smile

The Mr. Happy Face lean game is useful for contrasting push and pull systems. Using only paper and a few simple office tools (glue and scissors), the game is perfect for agile training or a lean office kaizen event.

The Game:

Several teams compete against each other by creating four different types of happy faces with pieces of construction paper. Each group must satisfy the customer requirement for faces, without knowing these requirements in advance.

Each happy face uses different shapes for eyes and mouths, pretty much guaranteeing that someone in each group will prepare inventory of these components.

Playing the game in two rounds enables the instructor to teach the difference between push and pull systems.

The first round finds the groups scrambling to make different styles of faces using a traditional batch manufacturing push system. Without defined rolls, the groups figure out their own way to make the faces. At the end of the round, inventory is counted and "money" awarded as follows:

  • Every face they sold = $400
  • Every unsold completed face = -$200
  • Every unsold eye = -$25
  • Every unsold mouth = -$50
  • Every uncompleted face = -$100

In the second round, each team prepares a queue of the different components (eyes, mouths and faces) and only replenishes the queue as parts are taken away to satisfy the customer. This pull system ensures that the teams make only what the customer wants, even without knowing the demand in advance.

The principles of kanban are clearly illustrated, as two of each eye and mouth type are held on the white papers and only replenished when they are used.

This video shows the a group in Round 2 - Pull System

I guess the Happy Face can also refer to the guy giving us a thumbs up at the end of the video! The real Mr. Happy Face??


With no special equipment needed to run this game, it's perfect for quick lean illustrations. You can use it to introduce kanban to your lean kaizen teams. Perhaps teaming it up with the Penny Game would give a great overview of push vs pull and the basics of inventory reduction.

Although simple, a nice illustration of the different faces would be a perfect bonus to use when running the game. I noticed a whiteboard in the video showing the different types, but perhaps a little paperwork will allow the instructor to introduce elements of Standard Work as well.

Overall, an excellent game! I'm always surprised at how easy it can be to introduce lean and kanban concepts. You don't need a fancy kit, just a little ingenuity!

For all the information about this game, including detailed instructions, head over to Tasty Cupcakes, the same website that brought you Making Pamphlets!

(Unfortunately, this game is no longer available at the above link).

See many more games and simulations in my list of Lean Games!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Free Lean and Agile Training Resources!

In my continuing search for free Lean resources, I recently came across another great site that has compiled a list of business training games,  available online for free. At, the focus is on software development and naturally there are many games listed here that will aid in kanban and scrum training sessions. As well, there are plenty of Lean and Business related games as well, including team-building activities.

This post is no longer relevant as the links are broken and the website above no longer exists. 

The games are even summarized in a handy grid, so you can determine which ones target the specific business need you want to address.

In particular, the Penny Game looks intriguing. It looks like a simulation that shows the benefits of small batches and better flow. I'll investigate further and write a separate post detailing some of the more interesting games.

In summary, a great list of training tools. Thanks to the people at agilitrix for their compilation of these games!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paperwork Simulation - Lean Office

From the state of Minnesota Lean website, the very same site that brought you Standard Pig, comes a simple free paperwork simulation lean game, perfect for your Lean office roll-out.

The simulation shows the difference between batch processing paperwork and one piece flow, using worksheets that require simple addition. Separated into teams of four, the "front line worker" adds several numbers together, the "lead worker" takes that total and adds some more numbers, while the third and fourth team members check the work.

The beauty of this game is that it is so basic. The key is to make sure that at each stage the team member must process five worksheets at a time (a batch!). In the next run, the teams may reduce the batch to one at a time and reap the benefits! From batch to pull in ten minutes. One person, a timekeeper, tracks the improvement.

Other suitable lean office games, like Making Pamphlets, require a little more time and creativity, which is great for a longer training session. This lean simulation can easily be squeezed into a short kaizen event, or presentation.

All five worksheets are provided in .doc format, with a guide for running the game included. Of course, the five worksheets contain different calculations. They don't make it easy for you! Since the documents are editable, I recommend changing the calculations for subsequent rounds, so the teams don't just go by memory.

You can access the Paperwork Lean Simulation .pdf file by clicking here. 

The Minnesota government also has a very useful lean resource page: