We discovered this simulation about Kanban & bottleneck theory on Youtube in a video featuring Klaus Leopold. It is simply the ultimate hit. Therefore we use the simulation 1:1 when it comes to really understand Kanban.

Now brand-new: Kanban Simulator Online

Whether as an individual, team or facilitator: If you’re not in one place together, then workshop formats like the Ship Building Game simply won’t work! Therefore we have developed a special Online Browser Game for the “Kanban Shipbuilding Simulation” in the last weeks, which enables you to participate interactively and live in a Kanban simulation. With this game you can overcome distances.

A Kanban simulation that is a lot of fun

Make sure you watch this video:

We can only encourage everyone to run this simulation themselves. The setup is fast and you don’t really need a lot of material. For the facilitator here are a couple of tips of ours:

  • use scrap paper or misprints if possible (your participants will remind you otherwise)
  • also schedules at least 60 minutes of time
  • if you facilitate in pairs, one of you can handle the data capturing
  • you should learn the 16 folding steps by heart (there are several variants of the folding instructions, let the participants decide how they want to build)
  • with groups between 6 and 13 participants it should work out in any case, less and more we have not tested yet
  • narrow tables like in the video are optimal in any case
  • shift the bottleneck to the end of the kanban simulation
  • it is no problem if the bottleneck is not in the last station (it is always somewhere)
  • makes it clear that speed is the key … this can be made clear at the beginning by fanning the sheets from the stack (ideally, do it like this in both runs)
  • the subsequent reflection phase is the central part of the simulation
  • write the trigger questions in advance on a moderation card or learn them by heart
  • by the way, deal with the theory behind Lead- and Cycle-Time and ask yourself what this means for this simulation
  • the facilitation is extremely fun, just try it out

Our experience

To come straight to the point: this simulation is a food for thought. We have seen managers who’ view of the world visibly wavered during the reflection and transfer phase after the exercise: “I had always known that things should actually be better. Now, for the first time, I really understand what the problem is and that I have actively contributed to it” or “Oh, I just don’t want to believe it, …” are only exemplary quotations. And almost always we hear: “You have to play that again with our [customers, stakeholders, managers], so that …”.

We often build this exercise into larger workshops, such as our Kanban training. You can also do it in isolation. From our point of view, an external facilitator helps to transfer the experience to your own team practice after the simulations.

Kanban Simulation mit Schiffen