The arrival of getKanban v3

Version 3 of the getKanban board game has finally arrived. It is now over a year ago since I saw a prototype of version 3 at Lean Software & Systems Conference 2011 and I have been waiting for it’s arrival ever since.

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Guess the excitement when the delivery truck pull up this week!

We immediately had to unpack the package and see how the final version looked like.

The game comes in a practical and nice looking bag.


When you open the bag you will find:

  • One green sleeve containing the game board and the four erasable charts
  • One clear tote bag containing the story cards,  the custom dies, all the different colored pens and some custom sticky notes
  • One cotton bag containing the expedite stories and the outcome cards

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So lets set it up!


This is the recommended setup as described in the new and much improved facilitators guide. The new facilitators guide is now delivered as two separate slide decks. One  for the Quick Play mode, and on for the  Standard and Advanced mode.

When you setup the game you will find that the overall quality of the game is much higher compared to version 2. The game board has a plastic surface that you can write on and then clean. This is a great as the version 2 game board starts to look quite messy after a few games.


All the new cards are also of higher quality and are now made of some plastic material. This applies to the charts as well. They are now made in a much thicker plastic material that is much easier to clean.


The gameplay

There are so many improvements to the game and the gameplay. I will only point to a few of them here. I will leave it up to you to discover the rest when you get your own copy or you have me or one of my colleagues from Avega Group over for some gameplay Smile

The game now has three different play modes:

  • Quick Play – Designed to be played in 60 – 90 minutes. Only one chart is tracked, WIP limits may not be adjusted and many learning points are skipped over.
  • Standard – Designed to be played in 2,5 – 3 hours. All of the charts are tracked, cycle time is collected, WIP limits may be adjusted and the concept of class of service is introduced.
  • Advanced – Designed to be played for a minimum of 3 hours. More advanced concepts are introduced, and winning and losing strategies make themselves much more evident in the final stages of the game. There are more opportunities to analyze and discuss the impact of events, and other aspects of the game.

The most visible change in version 3 is the custom dies. The new dies have three numbers in different colors on every side. The different colors represents the different specialties. Red for the analysts, blue for the developers and green for the testers. When you play a die in a column you use the number with the corresponding color. If you play the die according to its specialty you will get higher numbers. The dies no longer span between 1 and 6. The large numbers are between 3 and 6 and the smaller are between 0-3. This will reduce the variability and luck will have a smaller impact on the game outcome.


One other big difference is the introduction of replenishment and deployment cadence. In version 3 you can only replenish your input queue and deploy your stories at the end of the three day billing cycle. I think this is great as this mimics reality better. And just as in reality these process policies can be changes in the game.

The forth change I want to point out is the ability to change the work-in-process limits. As this is a core part of Kanban it is great that it is now part of the game. I have for some time allowed this when playing the version 2 as described in a previous post.

Playing the game


I have played the prototype version once. I have also facilitated a preproduction version as part of the Accredited Kanban training we ran at Avega Group earlier this year.

Version 3 of the getKanban game is a big step forward compared to the previous versions. Much more learning opportunities and also more opportunities to improve on the process, which is the main point of the Kanban Method.

I highly recommend the new and improved version 3 of the getKanban game.

Thank you Russell Healy for a great game!

I also want to say thank you to Russell Healy at getKanban Limited and Daniel Vacanti at Corporate Kanban for the copies of the game I have received.


Modified getKanban rules


The last five or six times that I have facilitated the getKanban game (version 2) I have played with some modified rules.

Multi tasking

When attending the inaugural charter member meeting of the Lean-Kanban University Accredited Kanban Training program in Soestduinen, Netherlands we discussed a suggestion from a class attendee that I really liked.

The suggestions was that work should be done on all stories in the doing column instead of focusing the work on a single story at a time. I really liked this as it better represents how work is really done in the real world. It better simulates the multitasking done in most processes.

So how do the new rule apply in the game?

Below is three standard stories in the testing column as we are about to start playing day 9. I have taken stricken out six testing points on story S1 so the facilitators guide will more or less still work for day nine.

We role a four on the orange die for test and we shall strike eight points off the stories. So we start striking off one on S1, then one on S2 and then on S3. We have five more points to strike off so we start over on S1 then S2 and S3. We keep doing this until we run out of work to distribute. We pull work just as before up to work-in-process limits.


As a very positive side effect I have found that players will discuss the value of focusing your work and lowering the work-in-process much more.

Work-in-process limits

The Kanban method is all about evolutionary improve your process. But version 2 of the getKanban game had very few real process improvement points. So I have introduced the option to change the work-in-process(WIP) limits once every game day at the daily stand-up meeting. I give the teams full freedom to lower and raise the WIP limits as long as they pull up to the limits and clear out stories over the limit asap.

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I usually coach the teams not to make any big changes as this very easily can totally destabilize the process. Make small evolutionary changes.

I have found that allowing the teams to adjust the WIP limits and questioning the reasons for why they made the change is a great learning opportunity.

Real Options/Class of Service

For the last two games I have facilitated I have made changes to how you play the intangibles and fixed delivery stories.

Now I let the teams decide how much work they want to spend on intangibles and fixed delivery stories when they are in doing columns. Combining this with the Multi tasking rule a situation could look something like this:

There are two standard stories and one intangible on the development column. We roll a six on the blue die. We now have twelve points of development work to spend. We decide that we want to prioritize standard stories  but not neglecting the intangible. So we decide to only spend work on the intangible story every other pass of applying the twelve development points.


I have found that allowing the teams to use this rule makes it much easier to teach the value of keeping some options active in the system. It is also easier to explain different class of service.

End note

I have had the opportunity to play the pre-production version of version 3 of the getKanban game and it looks like some of the rule changes describe here will make it into the version 3 game.

Let’s go out and play getKanban!

Playing the getKanban Board Game

As part of my Lean/Agile Coaching work I do quite a bit of Kanban training. One of the tools I try to use as part of that training is the getKanban Board Game.

The getKanban Board Game is board game like Monopoly but instead of trying to buy real estate and make your competitors go bankrupt in the getKanban Board Game you try to make your software process flow and maximize your net profit.


The goal of the getKanban game is to maximize the net profit by attracting subscribing customer for your software. You attract new customers by making new features available for the customer. Every third day of the game you will charge your existing and new customer. The team with the highest net profit at the end of the game day 21 will be the winning team.

To maximize your profit you need to manage your software development process by managing what work should be do by who and when. Work in the game comes in four different categories of story (or four classes of service):

  • Standard – product features which attract subscribers
  • Intangible – work that needs to be done, but that does not directly attract subscribers
  • Fixed Delivery Date – work to be deliver before their due dates
  • Expedite – work that need to done as quickly as possible

To help you manage the process you will learn how to create and use a Cumulative Flow Diagram and a Control Chart.

During the game different event will occur that the team has to handle by making prioritizations and resource allocation decisions.

This game is a great way to learn many of the mechanics of a kanban powered process.

It has been described as the most effective way to teach Kanban.

I do agree that this is truly a great tool to learn the basics of how a kanban powered process can be managed. The game has many learning opportunities and serves as great reference for further discussions and training. I highly recommend this game.

If you want to play it in your company please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Here are some example charts, results and pictures from my classes


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