Mattias Skarin

Mattias Skarin

Kanban, Lean and Agile mysteries

Agile game – Pass the Cup!

Timing: 10 mins


  • A fair amount of cups ( x2 > no of team members)
  • A bag  (holding cups)
  • A referree counting cups and checking time


Split into two teams "planners" and "doers". Introduce both teams into winning rules: Any team passning the highest number of cups around in 60s will win. Any cup dropped is considered faulty and has to start over from the beginning. 

Limitation: A cup cannot be passed on to the person standing next to you but cup must pass all persons in the team before counting as a score.

Planners: now has 5 min for planning their way of action (but are not allowed to practice!)

Doers: can practice for 5 minutes

Bring teams out and run the game. 

Note: game can also be run in a single team setup with two rounds. Give team 1 minute to plan before each round and note the number of cups passed in each round.

Learning Points:

  • By doing, you uncover things you could not forsee
  • By doing, team has already passed a number of cups! (aka made a prototype ūüôā
  • How did productivity go up per iteration?
  • Who stepped up and offered solutions? Was problem solved through member interaction or command/control?

Agile game – Pass the pennies

Timing: 10-15 mins


  • 20 Pennies (any kind)
  • 4 departments (1 worker per dep. sitting at table)
  • 4 dep. managers with stopwatch
  • 1 CEO  (with stopwatch)


Game has three turns – each with different batch size [20, 5 and 1].

Workers job is to flip the pennies he receives as fast as he can and then pass them on to next. Department managers job is to take time his worker spends from the first to the last coin flipped. CEO takes total time from the first coin to the last. 

For fun, let managers have a "one-on-one" chat with his worker after each round.

Display results on a flipchart:

20 coin batch 5 coin batch 1 coin batch
Department 1 10s 17s 12s
Department 2 12s  
Department 3      
Department 4      
Total .. .. ..

Learning Points:

  • When batchsize decreases, total cycle time decreases
  • As total time decreases, worker time increases!
  • People idle more when batch size is high

CREDIT: Agile Coachcamp members