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The Lean Dot Game

31 Jul 2019


Sylvain Chery

Goals: The Lean Dot game is a workshop to understand the basics of Lean. It allows to experiment the problems of flows (pushed and pulled), stocks, quality and inertia of a production line. It also helps to understand the difference between local and global improvements. The game also evokes the consequences on delivery times, the quality of the product and the profitability of the chain.

Duration: 1h - 1h30

Number of participants: 5-8 (possibility to make multiple teams simultaneously)

Material: 300 Post-its, 600 stickers of each color

Principle: The game takes place in 3 rounds of 15 minutes each. The production phase lasts 5 minutes and the rest of the time is devoted to the analysis and a retrospective of the round. This game is an adaptation of the game Lean Cups Game. Each round consists of the following:

  • A 1-minute preparation phase
  • A 5-minute production phase
  • A reporting and indicator construction phase
  • A retrospective during which the team seeks to improve

The team produces Post-its with 6 stickers according to the following model:


Each member of the team has a specific role that must accomplish ONE task. The list of 8 tasks is:

  • Take 6 Post-its
  • Place the yellow dot
  • Place the red dot
  • Place the green dots
  • Place the blue dots
  • Dismiss the ones that are not good
  • Stop the production team and announce to the time (when it remains 3 min, 2 min, 1 min, 10s)
  • Receive finished product

1st round:

For the first round, the team produces according to the planned tasks. This Round must take place in a pure productivist mode. Each task has been planned to be simple and fast. The system will reach its maximum efficiency if each team member works to its maximum. The motivation of the team is the priority at this stage (do not be sparing encouragement, shouting, individual coaching if necessary ..). It is possible, after 2 min, to introduce a specific request into the system (symbolized by a post-it of another color or shape).

At the end of the round everyone raises their hands and leaves their work as it is at the moment.

The reporting of the following indicators are made:

  • Total duration of the production (in principle 5 minutes but it could be decided to lengthen to go out 1 or 2 lots)
  • Release time of the 1st batch
  • Sum of the Work In Progress (post-its still in the system)
  • Number of Post-its Finished
  • Number of Post-Its Accepted (the team does not know in principle what the customer's acceptance criteria are, if the team requests it during the sprint, it is obviously necessary to give them)
  • Flow rate (number of finishes / total duration) => number of Post-its / min output by the factory
  • Cycle time (WIP / flow) => Time between the entry of a request in the system and its delivery

1st retrospective

We often notice during this first retrospective:

  • Quality issues
  • The team did not know the constraints of the client (no vision)
  • A very important WIP
  • very long cycle time so it is impossible to deliver a new request

2nd round and retrospective:

We put in place the proposals of the team (often a deletion of batches of 6 and sometimes the establishment of a tense flow on the factory). Each one deals with a post-it and gives it to the following in a synchronized way - 1 post-it goes into the factory, 1 post-it leaves the factory) and we run a new sprint (emptying the WIP) and we analyze the new indicators. We can try again the introduction of a new specific request in the system.

We often find during this second retrospective:

  • Quality improvement
  • Increased production
  • Less Stress
  • A reduced cycle time and often the delivery of specific demand
  • Representation of the time worked on a post-it / Cycle time (local / global improvement)

3rd round and retrospective:

We can then propose a queue of 3 post-its at each workstation so that everyone has a reserve of things to do. When the reserve of the next post is full, do not start new posts. We run a new sprint and we analyze the new indicators. The team carries out a last retrospective on the improvements put in place.

In conclusion, we can compare the experiments of the workshop and the different rounds with the experiences of each.

Do you want to experiment with the Dot game yourself? Want to know more about Lean?