Experiencing Kanban System Design

As a Kanban Trainer I often introduce people to the Kanban Method for evolutionary change and the aspects of evolving system design and how they drive improvement. I’ve been looking for ways to make this introduction and exploration of the Kanban Method a more interactive experience. I love Russel Healy’s Kanban Game both in physical and online form. It is THE best way to experience how to manage the flow of a Kanban system using a GIVEN system design. I see it as an experience of “Visualize”, “Limit WIP”, “Manage Flow”.

Now what do we do about “Make policies explicit” and “Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally”? Sagi Smolarski (who recently joined the AgileSparks ranks) and myself have been working on creating an experience that focuses on experimenting with policies seeking improvement while using ongoing quantitative feedback. Sort of a dynamic accelerated “Ops Review” simulator. It is still under wraps but we are readying it for a private beta release which will happen very soon. An example scenario would be to start with a certain combination of capacity, demand and system design, and try to fine-tune the system design using policies like WIP limits, definition of done for queue handoffs, swarming preferences, etc.

AgileSparks Flow Simulator
The AgileSparks Flow Simulator – v0.1

Mastering and honing a “static” context will not be easy, as we are trying to model several aspects we encounter in the real world such as the downsides of “too many cooks in the kitchen”, costs of delay both for value erosion as well as cost increase and chance for defects. Finding the right WIP levels for a system will not be easy.

But then at some point we will add “dynamic” transitions into the equation. Can “Slack” help you improve your capabilities? Will you now need to fine-tune the system towards a new balance? Is it worth allowing this “Slack” or squeezing as much value now from the system?

Some of the above is in our “To do” column, some of it in the “WIP”, and some of it already “Done”. I’m really anxious to be able to show this to the Kanban Community and whoever is interested in learning about the Kanban Method. If you are interested as well, let us know

Update: Flower – our flow simulator has been out there for a while now. check it out.