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Has your company adopted lean or agile, but it still hasn’t quite sunk into your culture? You may want to incorporate some lean games into your next company retreat or all-hands meeting. Games can be a great way to have fun, do some team building (without cheesy “trust falls”), and learn something along the way. They are great for learning because it helps to take the concepts of lean, agile, scrum, or kanban and demonstrate them to people in a very tangible way that is different than their normal work patterns.

Here are three lean games that we recently facilitated for a company’s IT department retreat. We’ve included a short summary video for each one, as well as links on where to get more information.

Game #1: “Pipes and Marbles”


Time needed: 30-45 minutes

Activity: Room is divided into two teams, which are each given PVC pipes and marbles. We had 18 sections of PVC pipe pre-cut in different lengths and diameters. Each team in this video had about 20 people. The teams were not allowed to hold the pipes together with their hands over the joints, which makes it harder to keep the pipes balanced as the marble rolls through them. The teams have a couple of rounds to come up with the fastest way to roll a marble through the pipes.

Learning Goals: Collaboration and Continuous Improvement

Source: Based on a game called “PVC Customer Connection” http://www.teambuildingusa.com/indoor-team-building-games/

Game #2: “Marshmallow Challenge”


Time needed: 45 minutes

Activity: Teams of 4 will build a structure from dried spaghetti noodles, tape, and string that must hold up a marshmallow. It’s harder than it sounds! This exercise is based on a TED talk presentation that has been used in “design workshops”, but can also be easily used in a lean/agile setting for team building.

Learning Goals: Collaboration, teamwork, and the importance of experimentation. Creativity requires just trying things without over thinking it.

Source: MarshmallowChallenge.com
I originally heard about this game here: http://www.leansimulations.org/2012/12/the-marshmallow-challenge-and-pdca-cycle.html

Game #3: “Kanban Pizza”


Time needed: 90 minutes to do the full exercise

Activity: Teams are given a variety of materials to make “pizza” from post-it notes and index cards. Specific rules must be followed regarding the quality and content of each product which will require the team to come up with processes and improve them over the course of several iterations.

Learning Goals: Minimizing “Work in Progress” and the most efficient ways to complete a project with minimal waste. Core principles of Kanban are emphasized in this game, and each team will build their own Kanban board around their process.

Source: This game was developed by Agile42 and they have released it under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Check out the great materials they have provided to facilitate one of these games: http://www.agile42.com/en/training/kanban-pizza-game/

Let us facilitate your next off site!

AgilityFeat has a lot of experience doing agile development for ourselves and our clients, as well as agile training and coaching for groups from small startups to Fortune 100 companies. Our experienced facilitators can join you for a departmental meeting or offsite retreat in order to lead these games and make sure your team absorbs the lessons.

Each of the above games was developed outside of AgilityFeat, and you can certainly lead them yourself. But the key to an effective offsite is having an experienced facilitator who is not only deeply familiar with the games and concepts involved, but also has the ability to pull out the lessons learned from your team and leave them with the take-aways you need to better absorb lean in your organization.

For more information, contact Arin@AgilityFeat.com or call 434 996 5226.