The “Last Responsible Moment” LEGO Learning Lab
Agile and Lean principles call for teams to delay decisions and activities until the “last responsible moment” so as to minimize rework and waste. While this sounds good in concept, sometimes teams fall victim to waiting until it is “too late” to make a decision or get started on a needed activity resulting in missed opportunities and/or down-to-the-wire heroic efforts to meet a deadline. At the same time, successful adoption of many agile and lean practices requires a culture of “organizational learning”. Come experience a “mash-up” of these concepts in the “Last Responsible Moment” LEGO Learning lab. In this workshop, participants will engage in a competitive LEGO simulation where teams will be asked to build a simple LEGO structure - each team’s structure will be scored based on its design, height, and how long the team waits to begin, whereby an incentive is provided to wait until the last responsible moment. The intent of the build activity is to allow teams to improve skills to make effective self-managing team decisions, as ultimately each team must decide when they wish to begin building, so experience is gained in identifying trade-offs, and using decision making protocols. After building, teams will debrief on what went well and where there were opportunities to improve seeking to increase their scores. The focus of this workshop will then pivot to focus on practices supportive of organizational learning between teams. Following the build challenge, participants will be given an “experiment canvas” and asked to define a problem, hypothesis, and indicator related to attempting to improve their score. The build challenge will then be repeated to allow participants to conduct their experiments and test their hypotheses. Participants will leave the workshop having experienced an engaging exercise they can use within self-managing teams to improve team decision making skills, and learned how to complete an “experiment canvas” they can integrate into practices such as retrospectives to improve organizational learning and sharing insights between teams.
Outline/structure of the Session
== Workshop Background ==
This is a new workshop that uses the “Last Responsible Moment” (LRM) Lego game to demonstrate a simple “experiment canvas” framework to promote and measure organizational learning. The “Last Responsible Moment” Lego game was created in 2014 as an exercise to demonstrate and teach lean principles. Since creation, the game has been modified for elementary and secondary school students (allowing kids to learn how to make effective decisions in self-managing teams/groups) and even integrated into Alzheimer's prevention therapy in nursing homes (since the game stimulates both mental and kinesthetic activity). This workshop, which is based on running the game through several iterations, has three primary objectives:
- Provide a quick refresher on the lean principles embodied in the concept of the “Last Responsible Moment” which are intended to reduce waste such as rework and/or waiting.
- Allow teams to practice effective team decision making, by identifying trade-offs and using appropriate decision making protocols to decide when they will begin the challenge. Each team table is supplied with job aids to remind them to discuss and capture trade-offs used for their decision and also various protocols that can be used to make team decisions quickly.
- Allow teams to experience a simple framework to promote organizational learning and improvement, an “experiment canvas”, that includes a “problem”, “hypothesis”, “indicator” and “outcome” - teams will define experiments, conduct them and share the outcome of experiment canvases posted in the workshop room. The intent of the experiment canvas is to make learning transparent so teams can see successful improvements conducted by other teams and then decide if integrating that experiment/change into their structure/process would be worthwhile.
== Workshop Flow ==
- Workshop participants will be split into small teams of 4-6 people.
- All teams will be given the same instructions to build a LEGO structure.
- Teams that delay the start of building receive a bonus for waiting (so as to simulate reduced cost/time needed to complete a project) - the bonus increases the more the team elects to wait.
- Lego blocks are treated as a shared resource between all teams, so as an added challenge groups that wait to begin (to maximize the bonus) run the risk of falling victim to the last responsible moment by not having enough time OR lego to complete the build
- A scoring matrix is provided to each team where they compute their total score by assessing the completeness of their build and how long they decided to wait until they began building
- A general debrief is held regarding the first iteration of the game
- The “experiment canvas” is presented and distributed to teams - teams are asked to define a problem, hypothesis & indicator (a metric/measurement to test the hypothesis other than their the score of the structure they build), then prior to the next iteration of the game, all teams share their hypotheses they are going to test.
- Game is repeated allowing teams to test / measure their hypotheses.
- Following the second iteration of the game, a more focused debrief is held regarding if each team’s hypothesis was proven/disproven and what was learned by conducting the experiment - the intent of this debrief is to show that by introducing an “experiment mindset” to teams where they are testing hypothesis in many instances they are able to communicate actionable insights faster to other colleagues.
- Based on timing (90 minute session), we should have time to repeat one more iteration allowing for teams to test another hypothesis and share the outcome following the game, ideally some teams elect to test a hypothesis that worked for someone else to see if it works for them - in real life, this is a practice organizations can use to determine the correct level of fidelity that is necessary to capture the outcome of an experiment so it is repeatable if another group/team thinks it would provide benefit to them.
- We will conclude the workshop with a time for general Q & A, and a quick review of references for the materials provided for those that wish to learn more.
Participants will be provided with the following items:
- Facilitation guides for the Last Responsible Moment LEGO Game
- Facilitation guides for the “experiment canvas”
- Reference sheets on trade-offs and decision protocols
== Workshop Timing (90 minutes) - elapsed time is shown in parentheses ==
- 5 minutes (0:00 - 5:00) - Welcome & Workshop Background (serious play + LEGO)
- 5 minutes (5:00 - 10:00) - History & Benefits of the “last responsible moment (from lean and agile principles)
- 10 minutes (10:00 - 20:00) - Play the LRM Game - Iteration #1
- 10 minutes (20:00 - 30:00) - Simulation Debrief (participants will complete a debrief worksheet during the discussion to capture key outcomes
- 5 minutes (30:00 - 35:00) - Introduce the Experiment Canvas - explain the concept, WHY, and what goes in each area of the canvas
- 10 minutes (35:00 - 45:00) - Teams complete an “experiment canvas” defining an problem, hypothesis & indicator - teams share
- 10 minutes (45:00 - 55:00) - Play the LRM Game - Iteration #2 (test the hypothesis on the canvas)
- 10 minutes (55:00 - 65:00) - Experiment Review - share outcomes of experiments and what was learned quickly
- 5 minutes (65:00 - 70:00) - Teams complete a new “experiment canvas” for one final experiment seeking to maximize their score
- 10 minutes (70:00 - 80:00) - Play the LRM Game - Iteration #3 (test the hypothesis on the canvas)
- 5 minutes (80:00 - 85:00) - Final experiment review - each team shares the outcome of their final experiment and what they learned
- 5 minutes (85:00 - 90:00) - Final Q&A and Thanks for attending
== Presentation Materials & Supplies ==
- This workshop is based on Sharon Bowman’s “Training from the Back of the Room” and is fully experiential - as seen in the timeline above participants spend nearly all workshop time engaging with each other to maximize learning.
- Presenter will provide LEGO (to be used in the workshop and returned), as well as the handouts mentioned in the outline above.
- A refresher on the key lean principles supported by deferring commitment to the “last responsible moment”
- A chance to experiment with self-managing team decision protocols allowing participants to practice identifying trade-offs, discussing pros/cons and establishing team consensus for several key decisions that each team must make during the lab
- An opportunity for each team to practice their lego building skills = FUN
- An introduction to the “experiment canvas” and experience in how to use the canvas to identify a problem, hypothesis, and indicator to allow for controlled improvement and learning - the “experiment canvas” integrates well with agile retrospectives allowing teams to frame their retrospective outcomes/actions as an experiment so there is a foundation to measure effectiveness
- A demonstration of how organizational learning can be measured and accelerated through the sharing of experiments, hypotheses, data and outcomes.
Team Leads, Team Members, anyone that contributes to team decision making regarding “when” to get started, and of course anyone who enjoys playing with LEGO