Playing and Hacking getKanban v2.0: Introduce and Illuminate Lean Principles to Create Real Change

What makes an agile game great? The right mix of accurate—staying true to the principles and practices it teaches—and engaging—giving students a reason to care about the outcome so they'll play (and learn) from the heart! This is especially important when teaching or learning Kanban, which requires deep understanding in order to bring about real change and measurable results.

In this session, we'll take a deep dive into one specific tried-and-tested great agile game. Using the open-source getKanban Version 2.0, we'll step through its game mechanics and review, in some detail, how each design decision helps to illustrate the fundamentals of Kanban. Along the way, we'll review a few key Lean principles and show how the game enlivens those lessons. When we're finished, you'll be ready to download the free getKanban game kit and play by yourself, or with your team, or even run your own big getKanban session with multiple play teams!

Our first half covers the basics of getKanban Version 2.0 for new players, plus a review of limiting WIP, creating a pull system, and working in cross-functional teams. Experienced Kanban trainers and coaches can also learn some new techniques for facilitating the game.

In our second half, I'll show you the adjustments I've made to getKanban Version 2.0 to guide players to their "a-ha" moment—a deep, personal experience they feel and remember. Now, instead of just the basics of how a Kanban board works, my students understand how to detect and solve problems that impede their flow. I see the difference when they leave the game and go back to work. My new open-source hacks to Version 2.0 will help you illuminate Lean principles for your clients and teams, and teach them to achieve real results faster.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

Part 1: Introduction to getKanban v2.0

  • Intro/background (10 mins): getKanban in context. I use the game as part of a two-day agile fundamentals course or a one-day Lean/Kanban only course which is designed to reach audiences with a wide range of learning styles:

    • 25% theory and history: why Lean/agile ideas work and how they're interrelated.
    • 25% practice: how to do Scrum and/or how to do Kanban.
    • 50% experiential: hands-on games where students practice what they've just instructed.
      • We play LEGO Scrum to illustrate Scrum, agile, even a bit of XP.
      • getKanban is the key activity I use to reinforce Lean principles and Kanban practice.
  • WORKSHOP (40 mins): I'm going to walk attendees through the actual setup and introduction that I use with my own classes to teach them the initial rules of the game and get them started playing.

    • We won't have enough time to actually play Day 9 (the first round of gameplay), but I want to make the session experiential for the attendees by getting them hands-on with the game pieces.
    • Introduction to the game board and pieces (30 mins, illustrated by a lot of pretty slides with graphics and photos); show how each element of the game kit teaches the basics of Kanban:
      • Lay out the board - states, split doing/done states, and WIP limits - breakout 5-10 mins to discuss WIP limits and how they create a pull system; step through Little's Law
      • Locate the story cards - story cards represent work items; dots represent effort
      • Locate the dice - dice represent people, with T-shaped skillsets - breakout 5 mins to whiteboard the T-shaped individual and look left/look right
      • Locate the Event (Day) cards - many days bring unplanned distractions; unplanned is normal
  • Talk (15 mins): getKanban mechanics as analogs for real life:

    • color story cards as prioritization of incomparables
    • dice and dots as variability in estimates
    • subscribers model as business cost of delay (introduce/tease the idea of hacking the game)
  • Wrap-up (5 mins): go forth and run this game. How to download the basic kit (http://bit.ly/v2-print). Show of hands, any interest in an OpenJam to play a whole round?

Part 2: Advanced Techniques: Hacking getKanban 2.0

  • Intro/background (10 mins): frustrations with the game - stubborn teams weren't learning what we wanted them to (see: http://blog.nwcadence.com/hacking-getkanban-version-2/)
    • Specifically, we want them to learn that limiting WIP reduces overall cycle time
  • Case study (10 mins): a team we trained in agile totally missed the point about queues and WIP - but when we stumbled upon the right way to show it to them, the turnaround in their behavior was immediate, self-directed, dramatic
  • Pivot! (1 min): therefore, we realized, it's possible to open teams' eyes about queues and WIP, and the value we get from it is enormous, so how do we realign our training around that?

  • Basic hacks (20 mins) (illustrated by a lot of pretty slides with graphics and photos):

    • Scoring/subscribers hack to increase the pain of high cycle time
    • "To Carlos or not to Carlos?" hack so teams can't rely on resource allocation as a cure for cycle time
    • Other ways players try to "game the game" and ease the pain of their bottlenecks without really changing their behavior, and various tiny "because I said so" hacks to combat their bad habits
  • Day 12 lecture hack (20 mins):

    • Because players cannot take a hint and just need to be thumped on the head with Lean principles sometimes - this is the meat of the workshop
    • Set up game boards in advance in end-of-Day-9 state, or similar - we won't have time to do any real gameplay, but want them to see and touch and hopefully feel the topics under discussion
    • Walk through the actual guided discussion of Lean principles that I use during the Day 12 lecture (including pretty slides)
      • Attendees locate the queues in the getKanban starting setup (including the surprise totally worthless queue)
      • Attendees calculate a sensible system-level WIP given the getKanban team size and discover that the starting WIP is above that - discuss how per-column WIP can obscure a too-high system WIP
      • Attendees have the a-ha moment and convince themselves that queues and WIP are way more important than dice, dots, or prioritization
  • Conclusion (5 mins): a very quick recipe for how to download the kit and run your own game

Learning Outcome

Intro session:

  • Understand the importance of learning styles when teaching agile
  • Recognize the ways getKanban illustrates real-world Kanban mechanics
  • Appreciate how limiting WIP is used in Kanban to create a pull system, and understand how T-shaped individuals help work flow
  • Learn how to facilitate a session of getKanban, including for large groups of multiple play teams

Advanced session:

  • Understand how legacy queues interfere with the relationship between WIP and cycle time
  • Discover how various getKanban game mechanics support or distract from specific learning objectives
  • Learn how to facilitate a modified getKanban 2.0 play session to teach players about the importance of queues and WIP
  • Custom Facilitator's Guide will be provided as a handout

Target Audience

This session is suitable for all roles and all experience levels, including practitioners, leaders, and coaches.

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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