Showing posts with label paper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label paper. Show all posts

Monday, December 13, 2010

Paper Airplane Lean Simulation - How to fold paper airplanes the Lean way

Paper Airplane Lean Simulation

This video series shows the differences between production methods, push vs pull, using something everyone is familiar with: Folding Paper Airplanes.

An inexpensive and easy lean simulation requiring only simple office supplies, it's perfect for your training needs. The videos describe everything in enough detail to facilitate your own lean game with paper airplanes.

With a historical approach, each run of the game simulates a different production technique:

  1. Craft Production
  2. Mass Production
  3. Lean Production
This first video shows two runs of the simulation, through craft production and subsequent mass production.

The commentary throughout the video provides excellent information about the roots and drawbacks of the various production methods.

While craft producers pride themselves on their high quality and attention to detail, the video explains the reality of the poor quality of craft production. As well, craft production requires a large investment in training, since each worker has to know the entire process.

Next, mass production improves the process by reducing unit cost and improving quality, but the drive to efficiency gains leads to overproduction in each process.

The second video shows the final run of the simulation, illustrating four lean production concepts:

  1. Quality at the source
  2. Level loading
  3. Pull 
  4. Pace
By using kanban, work in process is reduced:

Further runs introduce model variation, using different coloured pieces of paper, as well as a discussion of the benefits of a U-shaped cell.

This looks like an easy lean game to set-up and play. It clearly shows the benefits of lean manufacturing techniques and how to limit work in process in a simple way. 

Even without planning to play or facilitate the game, the videos are worthwhile to watch, as you can see the simulation unfold and the effects of the different production methods.

These Lean Paper Airplane Simulation Videos are created by the folks at They also have many other lean training videos dealing with other lean concepts like waste, heijunka and value stream mapping.

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

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, 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:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Frog Factory Kanban Game

The Frog Factory is a professional quality Lean kanban simulation available with all the fixings for free! It looks like a lot of work went into making this excellent game, using origami frog folding to teach Lean basics. The game is clearly outlined in the instructions, detailing how to run 5 rounds of six minutes each. Including discussion, the simulation should take about 2 hours.

There are four stations doing different parts of the folding process. Teams compete against each other trying to run the most efficient factory and make the most money. Unbalanced work flow will contribute to bottlenecks in the process, which can be addressed by each team using different approaches.

As the rounds progress, more complexity is added to the game, including colour mix, training and random events. I like how the instructions break each round out and include discussion points for each section.

The downloadable .zip file contains everything you need to run this game, including an Excel file for the scoring, a timer, the instructions and even a paper die to be used to determine value of the different colours!
If you are looking for a good simulation for your Lean training, take a look at this one. It is professionally done and includes everything you need, except for the origami paper. This is available at the
Dutch website, but all instructions are in English.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Making Pamphlets: Kanban Game

I've been searching the internet for more kanban related training tools and came across this game at Entitled Making Pamphlets: Kanban Game, the simulation demonstrates lean techniques with the making of promotional brochures for a holiday resort. Clocking in at 1 hr and using simple office supplies, it seems to be an excellent simulation for a lean office environment.
The supplies required are as follows:

  • Color paper: 4 different colors (20 pages or each color per team)

  • Glue sticks: 2 per team

  • Scissors: 2 pairs per team

  • Envelopes: 2 different sizes or colors (20 of each per team)

  • Color pencils: 1 set per team

  • Masking tape: 1 per team

  • Post-its: 3 different colors per team

  • Misc stickers (optional)

  • These types of games are best with teams, so that they can compete against and learn from each other. The game does assume some knowledge of kanban boards, so some research or additional training would be required on that front. I'm currently involved in a kanban implementation and I'm looking for a simple game that shows the movement of kanban cards. This game is perfect. I just have to figure out the best way to demonstrate use of the board for people that have no prior knowledge.

    Update: This game seems to have disappeared from the tastycupcakes site, but there's a similar game called "We're having a Party", that involves making invitations for a party. Still using simple office supplies, it also explores the batch and queue vs single piece flow processes.

    Here's another example of the "Making Pamphlets" game.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    The Card Drop Exercise

    The Card Drop Exercise is a simulation that can be used to teach Rolled Throughput Yield or RTY with a deck of cards. You drop cards from shoulder height, aiming toward a target. The good cards (on target) are passed to the next person who drops them using a different method towards a similar target. Once again the good cards are passed along to the next person to drop. There appear to be three "droppers".

    The simulation seems pretty well thought out as a demonstration of rolled throughput yield, which is used quite often in six sigma applications. There is some Lean thinking as well, with some discussion points about improvement opportunities.

    As well, it includes some excel sheets in the presentation to help you with the yield calculations. The only thing I couldn't find was how large the target on the floor was supposed to be. I imagine it shouldn't matter too much, although maybe if you took measurements from a point, you could do some control chart training as well!

    The game can be found in .pdf form here.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    5S Numbers Game

    I found a great little game at that can be played with only pen, paper and a stop watch. It demonstrates the main principles of 5S. It seems like an excellent introduction to a 5S kaizen event, or for general training.

    The 5S Numbers Game can also be found on the website as a free download.

    Description from the superteams website:
    "Here are the complete set of resources for you to confidently lead your Team through the game TOMORROW if you wish. . .We have created a full function Participant Handout that leads your Team step-by-step through the 5S Numbers Game"

    Have fun trying to get your team to organize this:

    My kind of simulation. Complete and free. The simulation is 15 pages long and contains everything you need to get started immediately. It even includes a facilitator's guide and talking points. Since it "plays" in 30 to 60 minutes, it would make an excellent introduction to any Lean activity, whether you are working in an office or manufacturing plant.

    The game can be found here.

    Also, check out this updated version of the 5S Numbers Game.

    This post has been added to my huge list of of lean games and simulations.

    To learn more about 5S, consider picking up the book, 5S for Operators: 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace (For Your Organization!).