iSixSigma

Lean Lego Game

Lean Lego Game

After revolutionizing the automobile industry, Lean principles have been applied across industries. However, many people haven’t been introduced to the concepts that make Lean successful.

One of the best ways to introduce people to new concepts is through a hands-on, team experience. Better yet, a game! (Speaking of games, be sure to check out the beer distribution game!)

In this interactive session, participants work in a small Lego production line, experiencing its problems
and applying Lean practices to overcome them. Up to 24 participants, divided into four teams, will learn about:
systems thinking, push vs. pull systems, waste, and more. A production line scenario will also be compared with the software development industry, analyzing their similarities and differences.

  • Main objective: Teach some Lean practices in a hands-on experience
  • Secondary objective: Demonstrate that Lean is more than just practices; the principles need to be understood
  • Topics covered: Waste, push and pull systems, kanban, systems thinking, work cells, Kaizen

Below you will find the instructions for the facilitators and teams, specifications for building bricks and houses, and presentations (short and long options).

Facilitator Instructions

Overview

This workshop was designed to demonstrate some Lean practices in an imaginary production line to build Lego houses.

  • Running time: 1:30 hours (short version)/3:00 hours (long version)
  • Intended audience: Beginning and intermediate knowledge of Lean
  • Number of participants: 8–24, divided in four teams
  • Number of facilitators: Two

Agendas

</table align=”center” border=”1″>Pre-Workshop Preparation

  • Team instructions (one per participant)
  • Lego house specifications (one per participant)
  • Lego bricks specifications (one for each Team 3 member)
  • Color cards to represent market demand
  • Index cards:
    • Label for each inventory (A, B, C, D, E)
    • Different colors to help organize inventories B, C, and D
    • Flip chart and sharpies (or the equivalent), projector, and slides
  • A countdown alarm
  • Lego bricks:
    • Sizes:
      • 1×4
      • 2×2
      • 2×3
      • 2×4
      • 2×6
    • Colors:
      • White
      • Yellow
      • Red
      • Blue
  • Inventories setup:
    • A: Bucket of Lego bricks
    • B: A bunch of pieces of each color
    • C: A bunch of pieces of each color, grouped by size
    • D: One set of bricks to build a house
    • E: Nothing
  • Tables setup:
Lean Lego Game Table Setup

Lean Lego Game Table Setup

IntroductionThe initial slides give a brief introduction to the workshop and Lean. You should cover the following topics:

  • Talk about why you are here
  • Give an overview of the session and its objectives
  • Check to make sure the audience is on the expected experience level (beginners and intermediate who have heard about Lean but never practiced or researched about it)
  • Explain a little bit about Lean (and why it is important)
  • Split the participants as evenly as possible in four teams

Team RolesYou are the CEO of a company who decided to build and sell Lego houses.

  • Your company follow a standardized (certified) process, and you expect them to follow it to be successful.
  • Each Lego brick costs $1.00 and each house will be sold for $25.00 (16 pieces to build a house, so a profit of $9 per house).
  • Each team has their own standardized procedures (instructions should be on the tables)

Teams will work in rounds:

  • Each team should follow the instructions.
  • At the end of each round, the countdown alarm will ring and a new color card will be drawn (to represent what color of house the market wanted to buy).
  • They should stop working and estimate the number of pieces on each inventory table.

Iteration 1 – Push SystemThe first hands‐on exercise represents a push system. The teams will perform four rounds of 30/40 seconds (short/long version) and you should:

  • Keep track of the inventories’ size throughout the rounds, on a flipchart
  • Keep track of how many houses were built and if the market bought them or not
  • Look disappointed when a house is not delivered at the end of the round, and if the house built was not
    bought by the market
  • Show the motivational slides and keep trying to motivate them
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What you should expect to happen in this round is:

  • A lot of rushing and chaos
  • It should take a couple of turns until the first house is delivered
  • A lot of waste should be piled on some of the inventories (specially on the first team, because they should perform their task faster then the others)

Debrief 1Conduct a quick retrospective to look at what went well and what could be improved. The next slides will cover the following topics:

  • The problem of waste and the amount of unused pieces in the inventories (over/under production and
    work-in-process [WIP])
  • Demonstrate where waste is piling up in the inventories
  • The 7 wastes of manufacturing
  • Show the differences between push and pull systems:
    • Push: predict market demand, economies of scale (the more you produce, the more you will sell). Doesn’t cope with variation
    • Pull: triggered by customer demand, produce only when something is consumed. Cope with variation
  • Talk about kanban and how it helps you limit WIP.
    • It’s a physical device that signals demand.
  • Explain how the production line will be redesigned to work in a pull system to limit the WIP (waste):
    • Each inventory will have a minimum buffer (see below).
    • The customer demand (color card) will be drawn at the beginning of each round (pull is driven by customer demand).
    • The last team should take the set from the chosen color to build that house.
    • The empty space on inventory “D” is the signal to what Team 3 should produce (just enough to fill the gap).
    • And so on . . .
  • Inventories setup (should be replaced by one of the facilitators during this debrief)
    • A: Bucket of Lego bricks
    • B: One set of each color
    • C: One set of each color
    • D: One set of each color
    • E: Nothing

Iteration 2 – Pull SystemThe second hands‐on exercise represents a pull system. The teams will perform four rounds of 30/40 seconds (short/long version) and you should:

  • Draw a color card at the beginning of each round. Take care to show it only to Team 4, to avoid the other teams hearing the demand and to reinforce the pull scheduling.
  • Keep track of the inventories’ size throughout the rounds on the flipchart.
  • Keep track of how many houses were built and if the market bought them or not.
  • Show the motivational slides and keep trying to motivate them.

What you should expect to happen in this round:

  • More calm scenario, less rush
  • Some teams will be doing nothing, waiting for the signal
  • Team 4 will be working full‐time and should be able to deliver an average of one house per round (may take two rounds sometimes)

Debrief 2Conduct a quick retrospective to discuss what went well and what could be improved. The next slides will cover the following topics:

  • Raise the problem of an unlevelled process (some people working full time while others are waiting)
  • Talk about possible solutions (e.g., put more people on the constraint step, and leave fewer people on the waiting steps)
  • Talk about systems thinking in this scenario: the whole process is setup to fail (redundant steps, unnecessary steps, overlapping tasks, etc.)
  • What is the purpose of the system? Is having four teams necessary from that perspective?
  • Talk about a work cell in Lean:
    • The same person does the job of more than one person
    • Talk about the balance between highly specialized (and prescribed) tasks, versus a more generalized skill to do more than one process step
    • Talk about the concept of one-piece flow
  • Explain how the production line will be redesigned to work in a work cell:
    • Each person will be assigned a house to build (will be given a color card each)
    • They should raise their hands as soon as a house is finished
  • Inventories setup (should be replaced by one of the facilitators during this debrief):
    • No more inventory tables
    • A pile of Lego bricks on each table
    • Distribute one instruction sheet to each participant and give them some time to read/understand it
    • Optionally, distribute the members of Team 4 among the other teams to spread house‐building knowledge
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Iteration 3 – Work CellThe third hands‐on exercise represents a work cell. Each person will build a house and you should:

  • Keep track of time
  • You can optionally timebox this round to 4x (2:00 minutes for short version and 2:40 minutes for long version)
  • Record how long it took for the first house to be delivered
  • Record how long it took for everyone to finish

What you should expect to happen in this round is:

  • Members of the last team should finish faster than others (more knowledge about building houses)
  • First house should be delivered within the first minute
  • Some people might not finish

Debrief 3Conduct a quick retrospective to discuss what went well and what could be improved. The next slides will cover the following topics:

  • Talk about how changes may take a while to take effect (took more time on the last exercise because a lot of
    people never had built a house)
  • Talk about Kaizen and continuous improvement (respect people, inspect and adapt)

If you’re running the short version of the workshop, go to the conclusion. Otherwise, introduce the final activity:

  • Ask the groups to discuss for 10 minutes and come up with their own process to build houses.
  • They are allowed to setup initial buffers as they wish.
  • They can organize themselves however they think is most efficient.

Iteration 4 – Kaizen (long version only)The final exercise represents the team’s process. Teams will perform one at a time in rounds of 2:00/2:40 minutes (short/long version) and you should:

  • Allow each team to setup their initial buffers before starting the countdown clock
  • Allow the other teams to gather around the team who will be performing
  • Draw at least one color card at the beginning of each round. Allow the team to ask you for more cards (they might be building more than one house at a time).
  • Keep track of how long an order takes to be fulfilled (if there are many cards being asked, and no houses delivered, for instance).
  • Keep track of how many houses were built.
  • Keep track of how many pieces were left on the table at the end of the round
  • Be aware of the peculiarities of the processes developed by each team.
  • After all rounds, allow each team to explain how their processes work and what they would change if they could play another round.

What you should expect to happen in this round is:

  • Some teams will deliver a lot of houses, while others might deliver just a few.
  • The teams will want to run another round to improve their process (and incorporate things learned from seeing the other teams performing). Allow them to do it if time permits.
  • Expect surprises! Teams can come up with extremely clever processes and performance may vary between them.
  • Another idea would be to conduct the first round with all teams performing at the same time (so they can gather data/feedback from their own experiences), and only then run the next round one team at a time.
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ConclusionIf you performed Iteration 4 (long version), conduct a quick review to discuss what went well and what
could be improved. Run through the final slides to talk about:

  • A quick overview of the different exercises and their outcome.
  • Show the difference of results (how many houses were sold on each run vs. pieces of Lego bought).
  • If possible, do the math to show the profits/losses on each different scenario.
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Talk about the difference between applying practices and understanding principles (kanban helped limit WIP, but in this case there was a systemic problem on the whole process).

  • Talk about the myths of the Toyota Production System.
  • Ask for other possible improvements to the process:
    • Collaboration with Lego supplier
    • How many defects were carried over?
    • How could they be prevented?
  • Show the differences between Lean in manufacturing and software development.
    • Flow of material vs. flow of information/decisions
    • Repeatability/predictability vs. ideation/creativity
  • Revisit the 7 wastes in manufacturing, comparing with the wastes in software development
  • Show a push vs. pull system in software (waterfall vs. agile)
  • Show how a kanban system can be used to limit WIP in a story wall
  • Conclusion should wrap everything up and leave room for future research on the topic
  • Take questions

^ Back to topLean Lego Game: Team InstructionsNote for all teams: Be as productive as you can. Remember that your team depends on you!Team 1

  • Walk to A
  • Grab a handful of Lego bricks
  • Take the bricks to your table
  • Sort them by color
  • Store the sorted bricks by color on B
  • Repeat

Team 2

  • Walk to B
  • Grab a handful of Lego bricks
  • Take the bricks to your table
  • Sort them by color and size
  • Store the sorted bricks by color and size on C
  • Repeat

Team 3

  • Walk to C
  • Take enough bricks of one color to fulfil the specification
  • Store the sorted bricks on D
  • Repeat

Team 4

  • Walk to D
  • Grab one set of bricks
  • Take the bricks to your table
  • Build a house according to the specification
  • Launch the house to market on E
  • Repeat

^ Back to topLean Lego Game: Presentations – Short and Long OptionsShorthttps://www.slideshare.net/iSixSigma/lean-lego-game-slides-short-presentationLonghttps://www.slideshare.net/iSixSigma/lean-lego-game-slides-long-presentation

^ Back to topLean Lego Game: Specifications – Bricks and HousesBricks
https://www.slideshare.net/iSixSigma/lean-lego-game-specifications-for-building-bricksHouses

^ Back to topLean Lego Game: Downloadable Files
These materials were originally published here and are published here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license.

Lean Lego Game: Agenda for Short Game (1 hour and 30 minutes)
DescriptionDuration (minutes)Elapsed Time (hours:minutes)
Introduction0:100:10
Iteration 1 – hands-on0:100:20
Debrief – retrospective 1 (waste, push vs. pull, kanban)0:200:40
Iteration 2 – hands-on0:100:50
Debrief – retrospective 2 (unlevelled process, systems thinking, work cells)0:201:10
Iteration 3 – hands-on0:101:20
Conclusion (Kaizen, Lean in software development)0:101:30
Lean Lego Game: Agenda for Long Game (3 hours)
DescriptionDuration (minutes)Elapsed Time (hours:minutes)
Introduction0:200:20
Iteration 1 – hands-on0:150:35
Debrief – retrospective 1 (waste, push vs. pull, kanban)0:200:55
Iteration 2 – hands-on0:151:10
Debrief – retrospective 2 (unlevelled process, systems thinking, work cells)0:201:30
Break
Iteration 3 – hands-on0:151:45
Debrief – retrospective 3 (yatai)0:202:15
Group activity (Kaizen, improving the process)0:152:30
Iteration 4 – hands-on0:202:50
Conclusion (Lean in software development)0:103:00

Comments 1

  1. Rafael Frontaura

    I don’t get the 30 seconds rounds… what happens in between? Can you provide more detail?

    0

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