We'd like to share a simple exercise that helps people understand how hard it is to be productive when they get too busy.  We call this the "GET IT ALL DONE NOW" Game :-)

THE "GET IT ALL DONE NOW" GAME 

The game works particularly well with larger audiences (any size theoretically).

Before you start: Make sure you have 15 minutes set aside for the whole exercise and make sure your audience is armed with a pen and a piece of paper each.  

STEP 1)  The Setup

As the facilitator you'll need a white board or flip-chart to write up the results.   Prepare something like this:

Display a presentation slide (or poster) with the following three lines:

GET IT ALL DONE NOW (Part 1).JPG

Here's the back story to set the scene for your audience:

"...You're each employed by our company and you are here to serve these three customers as quickly as possible.  Your job will be to write down these three lines on your own piece of paper but there's a catch..."

STEP 2) The 1st Scenario

"The catch is...

a) We have a strict company policy that no customer should be left waiting so you will need to deliver all three sentences at once and

b) We like to measure how fast this happens so please put your hand up when you have completed the task

..."

Setup a stopwatch that has a lap timer feature (smart phone apps tend to work well). 

Check for any questions and then launch the exercise!  

Take a 'lap' time every time someone raises their hand until everyone is done then stop the clock. 

Jot down the results... a) Earliest finish time...  b) latest finish time...  c) approximate average time....

Move on to STEP 3

(NOTE: YOUR AUDIENCE SHOULD COPY THE LINES IN THE PATTERN BELOW)

Note: The pattern should look something like this... all three customer jobs simultaneous

Note: The pattern should look something like this... all three customer jobs simultaneous

 

STEP 3) The 2nd Scenario

"...Well done everyone...  OK, our company has been learning about LEAN thinking and we've decided to fire the previous manager and establish a new customer policy...  We're going to rerun the exercise only this time you're only allowed to work on one customer at a time..."

Check for any questions and then launch the second exercise!  

Take a 'lap' time every time someone raises their hand until everyone is done then stop the clock. 

Jot down the results... a) Earliest finish time...  b) latest finish time...  c) approximate average time....

Move on to STEP 4

(NOTE: THE PATTERN SHOULD LOOK SOMETHING LIKE THIS)

Note: the pattern should look something like this

Note: the pattern should look something like this

STEP 4: The Learnings

Try to get your audience to share their experiences...  Some questions to get things started might be:

  • How did the first run feel? chaotic... difficult... 

  • How did the second run feel in comparison? easier... more flow... smoother

  • Which approach gave the fastest overall response?

  • Which approach gave the fastest time to first value?

  • Which approach felt more productive and less wasteful?

By the end of the exercise you should have something like this: 

Some of the key insights to conclude with:

  • Limiting Work-In-Progress increases throughput

  • Focusing on one thing at a time is faster, better and cheaper... every time

  • Teams that are able to focus tend to deliver better quality, faster and are more able to sustain their pace (i.e. achieve their flow state).

So why doesn't everyone understand and use these principles more widely you might ask?  Well there is a traditional management view (that's still very prevalent) that compels managers to make sure that every employee is utilized to the maximum.... in other words.  It's important everyone is busy... all the time...  This approach directly undermines productive throughput  and prevents teams from finding their true potential.  

Join THE revolution... stop the glorification of 'Busy'!  

P.s. We hope you found this article useful and if you do use this exercise please let us know how it went :-)