Lean Dot Game

Look in your supply cabinet at work, or head on over to Staples. You need post-its and stickers!

The Dot Game is a variation of the Lean Cups Game, but simpler, using sticky notes and different coloured dots. The dots are just circular stickers that you can pick up at any office supply type of store.

The game runs in 3 rounds or 20 minutes each, depending on how much time you want to spend on discussion. At this length, it’s easy to mix it into an all day training session while teaching core lean tools like value stream mapping, 5S and 8 wastes.

Or you could run the 3 rounds back to back and squeeze it into a hour-long presentation.

The Dot Game is ideal for teaching the basics of lean production, since it simulates a process that everyone understands. There’s multiple steps, multiple processes, potential for quality problems, a bottleneck, unbalanced flow and significant overproduction.

How does the Dot Game Work?

Your group of highly trained experts get to master the skills of sticking sticky dots to sticky notes. That’s right, those executives who make six figure salaries, will be seated around a table doing arts and crafts. Don’t worry. It’s worth it when you can get them to understand the basics of lean.

Each sticky note has to have six dots applied to it in a very specific pattern as shown:

Make those blue dots touch, but not overlap!

There are 8 roles in the game. It’s designed for software developers as written, so the job titles refer to different developers within a software design process. Really, the names don’t matter. You’re just putting dots on post-it notes.

Here’s the steps:

1. Business Analyst – Picks 6 post-its
2. Technical Analyst – Puts on yellow dot
3. Designer – Puts on red dot
4. UI Developer – Puts on green dot
5. Developer – puts on both blue dots
6. Tester –  discards anything of poor quality
7. Project Manager – uses stopwatch
8. Customer – receives the finished product

That’s it!

Run the game in 3 rounds. Like most lean games, the first round is a FREE for all, with lots of positive encouragement (shouting!) to ensure each person moves as fast as possible and makes lots of WIP.

The second round, you get closer to single piece flow, implement work in process limits and minimize the inventory.

The third round you can look at smoothing production and optimizing the work cell.