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Serious games for teaching innovation

Board games are great at teaching innovation. They’re a lot more engaging and memorable than just a presentation. Here’s a list of three good games that we have tested in the Playing Lean team - including Playing Lean, of course!

The getKanban board game

The getKanban game has been around for a really long time. The game is perfect for teaching Kanban for software development, a method developed by David Anderson. Kanban is a great process to support innovation.

In the game, you run a software team. Initially, the team has a lot of issues and the progress is slow. By applying Kanban to the process, you identify and fix the bottlenecks. Speed picks up, but then events happen! How do you deal with that? 

As the game progresses, the team fills in useful tools such as a Cumulative Flow Diagram, a Run Chart, and a Lead Time Distribution Chart.

This game is very efficient at teaching Kanban, especially when used in a competitive setting (one team per board).

Get the game:

Price: USD 450

MTa KanDo Lean

This game is awesome for understanding process innovation from a production perspective. Players are workers at a factory, tasked with putting together an actual toy trolley. The game comes with trolley pieces, kanban cards and a stopwatch.

The first time you assemble a trolley it takes a long time. Your goal is to increase the assembly speed and improve the output of the trolley factory. You do this by gradually applying lean principles to improve the process. When you’re done, you assemble the trolleys at a speed that seemed quite impossible when you were setting out.

We like this game as a very practical and hands on way to teach the core principles of lean and process innovation.

Get the game:

Price: GBP 695

Playing Lean

We couldn’t do this without mentioning our own game, could we? Playing Lean has been around since 2015.Two successful (and one failed) Kickstarter later, we have thousands of games out in the field. It’s a tried and tested option. 

Playing Lean focuses on Lean Startup (by Eric Ries) and the product development aspect of innovation. Players get to run a startup from inception to market domination, experimenting, building product and selling as they go. The fastest learner wins!

Through the different scenarios that are available for the game, players get variety and the game can be reused many times. Through the scenarios, you can also choose whether to focus on the Lean Canvas by Ash Maurya (Social Media and Ride Sharing scenarios) or Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder (Hospitality Scenario).

Get the game: 

Price: Euro 159 

There are many more serious board games out there. Which games do you think we should give a try?

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