Teaching Lean with Games

I used to work as Agile Coach with Agustin Villena who uses games and videos to teach
Agile’s principles. Then I have got a Scrum training in my current company and again
the Scrum Coach used games to explain the principles and the ceremonies of Scrum (Stand up
or daily meeting, Sprint pre and Planning and Retrospective).

When you use games people got the knowledge quickly and then you can play other games
to reaffirm concepts.

Fortunately, I found a blog written by  Shirly Ronen-Harel  and I was astonished about the benefits she mentioned about teaching Lean with Games. She mentioned seven benefits but you can imagine many more.

1. Simulations demonstrate Lean principles in action.

Demonstrating Lean concepts is one of the main reasons to use a simulation as a teaching
tool. During a Lean workshop, the key material can be taught, and then illustrated with a
simulation or game.

Once participants have seen with their own eyes the difference between Push and Pull production,
they’ll never forget it. That massive stack of half assembled Lego is a sight that will burn itself
into their brains.

2. Games involve your audience!

Maintaining your audience’s interest is one of the hardest things to do during training sessions.
Especially when they don’t want to be there!

By involving the participants, you’ll pique their interest. You will force them to get involved in
the material. They become active, rather than passive listeners. People learn by doing.

3. Games are perfect team building activities.

Training sessions done at your workplace will typically involve people of different departments and
management levels.

Mandate from the top: Everyone needs to know Lean!
These workshops are excellent opportunities to foster team building.
Games can be used to break the ice and get your audience to participate, but they’re also great for
getting people to work together.


4. Simulations are small and flexible.

Simulations are small and compact. They fit into a room. They can be performed in a quiet training room environment, rather than a noisy shop floor. They don’t interrupt normal business. They are short. They are expandable.

They can be tailored for different audiences. For a short demonstration in a kaizen event, use The Penny Game. For a multiple day training session, consider The Beer Game, which can be as complex as you want.

5. Games are confidence builders.

Your audience consists of many types of people. Shy, introverted thinkers mix it up with overbearing loudmouths.
This is also a good opportunity to identify problem solvers and leaders. These are the people you want in your next kaizen event.

6. Test real processes with simulations first.

Sometimes simulations are used for exactly that.

To simulate actual processes in your business.

At this point I want to introduce Getkanban which is amazing software to clarify all the concepts involved in Kanban. It is easy to explain and fun to play!!


7. Give yourself a break!

Let’s say you’re just learning the ropes of facilitation. You’re still a little uncomfortable standing up in front of people. Here’s a little secret. . .

A well-run Lean game will make up for mediocre presentation skills

If you want to read the original blog go ahead and visit


Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.

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