Bateaux, chapeaux et chocolats

I’m not a Bottleneck in French

Bruno Orsier describes (in French) how he has run the “I’m not a Bottleneck! I’m a free man!” game. He felt a bit uncomfortable to let his colleagues experience Lean and the Theory of Constraints with such a “silly” game: folding paper boats and hats to earn chocolates. Nevertheless, the session was a great success and he sees how the Theory of Constraints tools can be used in his retrospectives.

He follows up with another blog post about the metrics underlying the game. He applies the Throughput Accounting techniques to compute the ROI in chocolates.

Bruno reflects on the game and wonders about the role of the “Production” player: they redo the test work of the tester and count the number of pairs of hats and boats (throughput). The documentation is not completely clear on the subject. A similar question arose in a previous workshop, but this time about the “Requirements” role. The player in that role didn’t really feel part of the process, as they just hand out pieces of paper and count the pieces of paper (investment).

These two players are supposed to represent the customer. They are at the start and the end of the process, where investment and throughput are measured. They don’t really participate in the process, but they track its progress. The “Production” player tests the output like a customer would acceptance test the output of their supplier. During most of the simulation they don’t have a lot to do. How could they make themselves useful?

Don’t read on if you don’t want to spoil playing the game….

Involving the customer

How could you involve the customer more? Here are a few ways to do it in the game:

  • Unite the two customer representatives, one who defines the requirements and the other who performs acceptance testing.
  • The customer representative(s) examines the process and offers improvement ideas. The other players are much too busy to see anything but their own work.
  • The customer representative can be involved in the work, for example by helping with quality control. I usually add a few poorly cut sheets of paper to the stack of folding paper. The customer can help their team by performing quality control on the paper, rejecting any bad raw material.
  • If the quality that comes out of the team is very high, the customer has more confidence and needs to do less testing, leaving them more time to do more interesting and value-adding work.

How do you involve your customer in your work?