Russell Healyʼs getKanban Simulation Game

Russell Healy of getKanban Limited in New Zealand has created a fantastic instructional board game called “getKanban.” You can read more at the game website.

This game is easily the most efficient way I know for people to learn Kanban at the next level of depth. I find players learn in three hours what would otherwise take more than a day to learn. Such is the instructional power of a very effective simulation, which the getKanban game definitely is.

Cost Considerations

Last time I checked, the newest version of the game was priced at $450 per set. Each set can support 1 to 6 players, with 3 to 4 being the sweet spot. It is best to play competitively against at least one other team, so ideally you should buy at least two sets.

Healy generously made print files for version 2 freely available long ago, and continues to do so. Even the free version costs around $70 per set after you pay for printing costs and supplies. The newer version is indeed slightly better, yet for many the price difference is hard to justify—especially if you need a large number of game sets.

If funding is not an issue, please consider buying the commercial version. Although $450 per set sounds steep, Iʼm sure the price is easily justified in terms of Healyʼs development costs.

Producing the Free Version

Producing a copy of the free version of getKanban v2 involves printing and laminating the board and pieces and assembling a variety of off-the-shelf office supplies. With the information below, you should be able to do this in far less time than the day or so it originally took me.

Printing the Board Set

Economically printing and laminating the print files is the most challenging and time-consuming part of producing the game. Expect this to be a bit fussy.

The v2 print files can be found at https://getkanban.com/pages/free-version. Remember, you are looking for version 2, as Healy only provides a complete set of print files for that version.

You will want to have all of the game pieces and the board laminated. Although dry-erase marker laminate is better, it is relatively pricey. As long as you have dry-erase cleaner, normal laminate is much cheaper and works almost as well.

I recommend you ask the print shop to print the blocker card on pink paper and laminate it along with everything else. You will only need one of these per game set.

An online print shop is likely to have the lowest production cost, but is also likely to be the most difficult to work with. The challenge is finding one which has both large-format printing and lamination capability and is willing to take the time to understand the order.

If your company has a sufficiently capable, cost-effective in-house print shop you can visit in person, I strongly recommend you take advantage of it.

Without a prototype example, a print shop will initially struggle to understand the order. I recommend you print and cut a copy of all the letter-sized print files yourself. Showing your limited prototype to the print shop will go a very long way in helping them understand the order.

Ordering Everything Else

Identifying and collecting the additional supplies required for each game can be tedious and time-consuming. With the following list, you can quickly order everything you need in just a few minutes.

Using the Free Version

Slides

To help facilitate the game, I have also produced a slide deck which makes it easier to walk people through the initial game round (Day 9). Russell Healy has generously incorporated my derivative work into the print file download bundle. You can therefore find it at https://getkanban.com/pages/free-version along with the print files.

Hacking getKanban

Cheryl Hammond provides an interesting perspective on using the getKanban game. My experience has not been the same as hers. In my experience, “Evil Carlos” has not adversely affected learning outcomes at all. I suspect your experience will vary based on the skills and background of the game participants.

https://www.nwcadence.com/blog/hacking-getkanban-version-2