Lean Dice Game

Whether you’re in software development or lean manufacturing, these types of training games teach lean fundamentals, applicable to any industry. Concepts like single piece flow, kanban, pull systems and waste elimination are core ideas that transcend specific processes. This game is no different, introducing these key principles in a simple fashion.

Most Lean Dice Games fall into the six sigma variety. Rolling dice at each station introduces variability, teaching the importance of stable processes and how to measure variation properly. An important exercise, to be sure, but this dice game is a little different. No dice rolling in this game, just dice turning.

That’s right. A dice game where you don’t roll the dice! 

The dice are merely there to show the process state. At one process, the operator must turn all the dice so the two is showing. At the next one, the operator must turn it so the three is at the top. And so one. 

Materials: Obtain 10-15 multisided dice per group of 5-7 people. Transparent dice and ones with un-inked numbers can help make the exercise more challenging (and realistic).

Roles:

  • ScrumMaster: Ensure rules are followed, add up points
  • Product Owner: Accept delivery to confirm receipt of points
  • Team: Each person on the team will turn the dice in a certain way to represent a specialized activity, such as analysis, design, development and testing.

Time limit: 2 minutes per round

Here’s the description of the Game:

  • Analysis would be performed by turning a die and placing it on the table such that the number 1 is facing up.
  • Design would be performed by turning a die and placing it on the table such that the number 2 is facing up.
  • Development would be performed by turning a die and placing it on the table such that the number 3 is facing up.
  • And so on, ending with the Product Owner, who turns the dice one more time to accept them.

Feature Scoring: Teams get 1 point for every die that has been completed (proceeded through all of the defined activities by turning the dice through each number). For instance, if you defined five activities (e.g. Analysis, Design, Development, Testing, Deployment), the die would have to be turned to 1, then 2, 3, 4 and 5 sequentially; when it reaches 5, it is Done and gets the point.

You can also choose to give more points by die complexity (e.g. 1 point for 4-6 sides, 2 points for 7-9 sides, 3 points for anything more complex). This makes the Product Owner role more meaningful and challenging.

Release Scoring: 10 points for every complete set of one die shape (e.g. all of the cubes, or all of the tetrahedrons). You can also use similarly colored dice to represent Releases

Download the full instructions below:
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This game is perfect for showing the benefit of small batches. In one iteration, each person must flip all the dice before passing them along to the next person, illustrating large batch production. The next time you run it, you can pass each die after it has been flipped. . .single piece flow.

Get someone with a stopwatch to time how long it takes for one die to get through the whole system and compare the different iterations.

If one person is struggling and a bottleneck forms, it’s time to introduce Kanban by limiting the work in process. If you can think of some way to create a bottleneck, even better. That’s where the clear dice help out, since it can be harder to see the dots.

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