In the same way as Aesop’s Fables from Ancient Greece talked about serious matters but transferred them into the world of animals, this game lets all participants play in a friendly environment where nobody is in their ordinary job role. Instead the whole team is challenged to draw randomly selected wild animals well enough so the “customer” can guess what animal is is. The challenge can only be overcome through learning about- and improving how the team is organized and how it works. Two to three hours of laughter, serious learning and quite silly-looking animals can be expected.
The game has been used in one of the largest companies in Sweden to give hundreds of employees a “hands-on” feel for the difference between resource optimization and flow optimization. Especially counter-intuitive ideas need to be experienced to really win acceptance and nothing beats having done it yourself. It also clearly illustrates the value of small rapid improvements in a complex situation (like when working with flow) where you can’t analyze your way to the perfect solution. Sometimes groups of more senior participants try to discuss for a long time before playing another 5-min round. This results in fewer rounds being played, less reality feedback being generated, a slower learning cycle and a lower final score. The team that has the global high-score in the game is a group of junior engineers who could decide rapidly what to try next, play more rounds and thus learn quicker what ACTUALLY worked best. A healthy atmosphere of wanting to change many things compared to the original (and really bad) delivery process was certainly to their advantage too.
The game runs with 5-min sprints where the team executes the current process as stated in the role instructions. After each round the facilitator and certain team members count the score. The whole team holds a 5-min retrospective aided by the facilitator followed by 5 minutes of coming up with two improvements for the next round. A template is provided to visualize both the score, the retrospective findings and the changes to the role instructions for the next round.
The game thus provides a platform for rapid experience-based learning about flow, customer interaction and continuous improvement among other things. It was developed in its first version back in in 2011 and has been played more than 100 times on all continents of the world and by diverse groups of participants. The game has been used in many transformation workshops to simulate the journey from a current organization towards a future and more agile setup.