Learning flow with the Lean Dot Game

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Yesterday we had one of our regularly occurring so called Agile Lunch & Learn in the tribe at Spotify I currently work. We wanted to make the lunch about why it is often better not to work and focus on flow than to maximize your work and focus on resource efficiency. I searched for something in the Crisp bag of games. Pass the pennies – more about big batches. Kanban  tothpicks – to many rounds and variables. Folding envelopes – again more batches. Eventually I found the Lean Dot game.

Result board from a round of the Lean Dot Game

Result board from a round of the Lean Dot Game

What a find! This game will be with me for a long time. The best flow game there is, with extremply simple props: post-it notes and colored dots. You can run it  in an hour and get tons of experiences and stuff to discuss, such as:

  • Why it’s better to slow down
  • Adapt to bottlenecks
  • Batch sizes
  • Little’s law illustrated
  • Waste and inventory
  • Customer collaboration
  • In process testing
  • And more, and more, and more…

I have put together a presentation to make it easy to get started facilitating the Lean Dot game. Here you are:


  • 1
    2014-04-04 - 08:49 | Permalink

    Great writeup!
    This is an awesome exercise that shows so many features and aspects of agile, lean and collaboration. I have used it for years!

    We wrote about it in our book (http://bit.ly/theKanbanBook).

    Due credit should go to Allan Shalloway that first invented it (through our investigations), simply known as the Dot Game.

    Thank you for making this known to more people.

    • 2
      2014-04-04 - 09:13 | Permalink

      thanks. And great that you have it in your book. I have yet to have the time to switch a copy of my Padjelanta book with Joakim to get hold of your book. As you can see in the slides, the source is given on the front page. Now you have done that again. Super!

  • 3
    2014-04-04 - 09:39 | Permalink

    Great description!

    Thanks for reminding me. I had seen this a long time ago, but forgot some details. Now I have it all collected and can re-use it.

    Thanks for sharing it publically!

  • 4
    Jeff Y
    2014-04-27 - 17:09 | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this. I was looking for something to use to introduce flow ideas to my new team. I will use the dot game!

  • 5
    2014-05-24 - 10:53 | Permalink

    great post 🙂

  • 6
    2014-09-04 - 13:22 | Permalink

    […] Facilitating the Lean Dot game […]

  • 7
    2015-07-22 - 12:33 | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. Will give it a go.
    What’s the difference between completed and accepted post-its?

  • 8
    2015-10-29 - 02:03 | Permalink

    Thanks for finally writing about > Crisp’s Blog
    Learning flow with the Lean Dot Game < Loved it!

  • 9
    Alexander Dobry
    2019-06-05 - 22:01 | Permalink

    Hi Peter, let’s see if this reaches you still.
    This was the exercise I was looking for to teach all the aspects you listed in a simple form. My alteration for today’s world was a touch of environmental friendliness.
    So we used paper clips on index cards, which can be disassembled and reused. And we added the role Quality to learn how to help bottlenecks and how to make them self “disappear” in round 3. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.