Introducing Kanban through games - Antti Kirjavainen (#024)

Understanding Kanban profoundly requires one to grasp a couple of principles about knowledge work that seem un-intuitive for many: Flow thinking and Continuous Improvement of ways of working through shared models and experimentation.

In order to grasp these principles, the learner has to undergo a paradigm shift in how he thinks about knowledge work. This kind of paradigm shift requires more than reasoning or evidence based on logic. In order to overcome the cognitive conflict between his old thinking about work and theory and evidence on flow thinking, for instance, the learner needs something more.

I have found out that one pedagogic method to help this paradigm shift is giving the learner the chance to experience these principles first hand through games and exercises. This practical experience serves as a point of reference to more theoretic discussion about the principles of Kanban. To have maximum effect, I use these games in the beginning of training sessions.

In this workshop, I will demonstrate how I use games in my Kanban trainings and workshops to support understanding of the main principles behind Kanban: Flow thinking and Continuous Improvement of ways of working through shared models and experimentation.

The games I use will be familiar to most experienced Kanban coaches and trainers. They are the “How long it takes to write a name?” by Henrik Kniberg and the “Ball Flow Game” by Karl Scotland.

My workshop is targeted for coaches, managers and facilitators with little or no Kanban training and coaching expertise who want to improve their Kanban introduction trainings and workshops with games. For them, my workshop offers concrete guidance on how to run these games, discussion on how to tie different parts of Kanban introduction to these games as well as the practical experience of playing these games.

For more experienced coaches and trainers my workshop can still offer valuable experiences on how to structure a training around these games and how they provide value. As well as of course learnings from a couple of failed experiments.


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