Showing posts with label waste. Show all posts
Showing posts with label waste. Show all posts

Monday, March 21, 2011

5S Animated Lean Video. . . with Catchy Soundtrack

A place for everything and everything in its place. 

That's the refrain for the 5S song in this animated video on 5S. Yes. A 5S song. Be warned, it's very catchy.

Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.  

This Lean video reviews all 5 of the S's in a cheesy, yet surprisingly invigorating way. At just under 4 minutes, the video doesn't over stay its welcome. Perfect for a little interlude in your training session. You could combine it with the 5S Numbers Game.

Although identifying the steps and touching on waste reduction, the video doesn't quite nail the primary benefit of 5S, namely creating a visual standard, so you can identify non-standard conditions. See your problems, so you can fix them!

Just remember that 5S is a continuous process. And if you don't get to the 4th and 5th S, you will fail! 

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.

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!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lean Lego Video - "Lean gone LEGO"

A reader sent me a link to this Youtube video showing a Lean transformation on a factory floor, Lego-style! This is a professional quality video, using stop animation to show the horrible current condition and the subsequent improvement. We can all feel the frustration as the production people struggle with a terribly inefficient process, but still allow ourselves a chuckle as the Lego supervisor trips over some plastic rods. Excellent production values, with a musical score and very funny dialogue.

At a short 5 min and 10 seconds, this video is perfect to supplement any Lean training session or kaizen event, illustrating the key Lean concepts of 5S and waste. The added bonus of Aussie slang pushes my rating of this to two thumbs up!

This video was put out by a technical school in Australia called "the Gordon."

If you're interested in learning more about Lean, check out the book: Creating Continuous Flow, by Mike Rother. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lean Bicycle Factory Game

A Swedish consortium developed a cool free lean game called Lean Bicycle Factory, free to download from (No longer free. This game is now for sale at the linked site).

Upon starting the game, you are confronted with a typical manufacturing scenario, where bicycles are manufactured through a variety of processes. The factory workers move by themselves, and you follow the bicycle components through stamping, assembly, paint, and quality control. As you watch, you can easily spot opportunities for improvement, including plenty of wasted motion, large inventories and missed orders to the customer.

Through 5 rounds, you or your team are invited to make changes and fine-tune the processes. Between each round you can perform two changes. There are many options to choose from including reducing batch quantities, moving processes closer together, selling forklifts, adding marketing gurus and analysts, quality control and maintenance. Everything comes with a price tag, so you have to determine if the change is worth it.
Eventually you are striving to reach the ultimate layout, similar to what I threw together below:

I spent a few hours playing around with this one and it's a pretty good. The screen shot above shows that I ended up with negative money, but that's mainly because in the final round you are allowed to make unlimited changes. I wanted to optimize everything and see the effect. It's expensive to move those larger machines.
It's interesting because you are limited to 2 changes and there are many more than 2 available. Although its a computer game and it's fun to play solo, it would work perfectly for training groups, since you can make changes and view the results of the changes. Perfect talking about each aspect of lean, then implementing it in the next round.

The simulation does run frustratingly slow, each round taking about 10 minutes. I could evaluate the impact of the changes within about 1 to 2 minutes, but had to wait for the round to end before I could go on to the next stage. And what's even more annoying is the existence of fast forward buttons on the bottom of the screen that don't seem to do anything! If you plan to use this for training, you would need to fill this time with training of some kind.

Apart from the speed problem,  I loved this lean simulation. I wish they would develop it a little further. There are a few quirks that I would like to see improved, including the chance to set inventory levels at each station at the start of each round. Let me know if you've tried it out and what you think!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Pizza Game - A VSM Simulation

The Pizza Game is a Lean simulation created by Bob Petruska using poker chips and train tracks to illustrate the concepts of lean and kanban, with a focus on Value Stream Mapping. Using poker chips and wooden train tracks, the materials are a bit more unorthodox than some other simulations. 

During the game, the group makes pizzas with six linked processes and an inspection. Other Lean disciples are involved in timing and tracking the results. Some of the tools discussed include work balancing and spaghetti diagrams. 

Each iteration of the game is followed by a kaizen blitz, where the team uses VSM to map the processes and improve it, by combining operations, changing the layout and developing a pull system. The Pizza Game is a complete simulation, with all information required to run it included in the .pdf. You only need to acquire the materials.  

Note: This is no longer a free download, but you can buy the game as a complete kit at the linked site.

This game has been added to my growing list of lean games and simulations.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lean Lego Game

Update: This Lean Lego simulation can now be found on Read my updated post regarding this game.

Another free Lean Lego Game can be found on the Aberdeen Lean forums, a website set up to share Lean practices in South Dakota. This is a full-fledged lean lego simulation that teaches the basics of pull vs push, kanban, takt time, 5S and flow. A detailed .pdf file for the facilitator gives clear instructions on how to run the game, including a list of all the materials needed.

The simulation uses only basic building blocks, which are readily available. No fancy pieces required. Using two stations, the operators build Lego assemblies in a variety of colours. Through five runs, the team improves the process from a standard batch manufacturing philosophy, to a kanban based pull system.

A second .pdf file serves as a presentation or guide to follow while running through the simulation with your team.
Although there are no funky pictures of Lego animals like the other Lego game from the University of St. Andrews, the instructions and presentation are clear and provide plenty of information, useful to be interspersed within a full day of Lean training.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

F1 Pit Stop

While not exactly a lean video, this one does demonstrate key principles of teamwork, 5S and minimizing waste. 

It's a Ferrari Formula 1 pit stop. At around 4.5 seconds, this one is fast and you can see how everything must be in the right place, everyone has a job to do and how important team work is when the takt time is zero. Actually zero is a bit of an aggressive target, but what is the customer demand? I would guess that most teams wouldn't want to stop if they didn't have to. 

From this article on, the Renault team's target for pitstops is 3 seconds, although this is for the 2010 season where the rules call for the elimination of refueling mid race. So the major bottleneck, the fueling process, is gone and pits are even faster!

If the embedded video isn't working, you can see the original here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Beer Game

The Beer Game has been around since the 60's, before the advent of the term Lean, but it contains many Lean aspects, including kanban and reducing inventory. Players manage a supply chain of beer brewery, namely the retailer, wholesaler, distributor and factory. Only the retailer knows the customer demand and this is determined by randomly flipping up cards. The lack of communication through the supply chain and fluctuation in demand creates a bullwhip effect amongst the players, until they figure out how to maintain good inventory levels using some form of kanban.

Because of it's age and popularity there are plenty of free resources available and it has spawned off several software versions that you can download or play online for free at the MIT website.

There's a decent slide presentation you can use here.

All this seems a little overly complicated for what I'm looking for. My preference generally is for simpler games to show lean concepts. The online version might be worth a look, though.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5S Standard Work Video

The hardest parts of a 5S implementation are the 4th and 5th S's, "standardize" and "sustain." Everyone can clean up the place, sort their tools and find good spots for them, but coming up with standards and ways to sustain the effort is more difficult. It's also easier to explain the benefits of a clean workspace, than expounding on the importance of standard work. Here's a good 5S video that focuses on the fourth S. The video describes standards, how important they are to the fire department and how they can be leveraged into different work environments. 

As the narrator states, " Without standards, 5S just becomes a fancy word for housekeeping." I think this video is informative and at 5 minutes is short enough to use as an intro to 5S or as part of a kaizen event.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lean Lego Simulation

Another institution of higher learning has a great simulation to demonstrate Lean principles. The University of St. Andrews in Scotland has come up with this Lean game which uses three types of common Lego blocks to make six different objects for the customer. The customer gets to pick from a catalogue of these products, which are built at two stations. The best part of the game is that you get to make Lego animals! Most simulations use cars or other mechanical devices, but I love the fact that the choices include a duck robot.

Look at that cute horse! A great game with a touch of humour. Because the processes are not linked, it does lack a little of the bottleneck / theory of constraints aspect of Lean, but their are plenty of opportunities to improve the process. In fact, I expect that the team would be able to come up with two linked subassembly stations as a kaizen, instead of two stand alone stations. 

The .pdf for the game includes instructions for all the stations. It is ready to go. All you need is the Lego blocks or equivalent. 

Here is an example of the instructions for one of the build stations:

The cumbersome order forms are another place to focus some improvement activities, but they also serve to track the time from order to receive, as the customer has to keep track of this info on the sheet.

Unfortunately, the links to this game are broken, so they've been removed.