The game Get Kanban is a great way to acquaint people with the elements of Kanban
in which we have scenarios, board and dice to have fun!
The game is extremely didactic and covers all the elements Lean Kanban for teams efficiency. In my experience it can be played with novice or with more knowledgeable folks, assuming a very good lead or teacher is facilitating the play. In all honestly I do not see any gains for seasoned Kanban practitioners as this is foundational knowledge. I would also shout out the fact that there are not that many seasoned Kanban practitioners out there!
Through a board that represents a team’s workflow and five iterations to run, the players are invited to make decisions on how to organize their work, how to prioritize and select new work, all while having to keep track of important metrics such as cumulative flow diagrams, lead time and, why not, financial results. All of those, analyzed at the end of every iteration.
This game is very representative of real-time problems, as we draw cards at every game day introducing managerial decisions forcing the players to restructure themselves to absorb the impact of those. They are usually not-so-well-thought decisions, provoking intense discussions. Some of these cards will impose constraints that play very clearly on the tendency of teams to relax the limit on work in progress and in the inability to actually convert analysts into developers in a 1:1 scale.
The power of playful interactions for deep learning of concepts is something I am sold on for a very long time now. Many of the Kanban aspects addressed in the game can be learned through reading or training. It is the playfulness, however, experimenting safely with mistakes and testing one’s understanding, learning through consequences that do not need to be so dire, that is key.
A final word of advice when introducing any playful activity for learning purposes is to come back at least in the end to discuss the experience as a whole and draw parallels with real life. One can get too fixated in the fun and excitement and forget to draw the conclusions that will actually lead to the desired deep learning.