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By: Cristina Marini

You will need:

    • A few teams of (x) people
    • Post-it notes in green, pink and yellow
    • Red markers
    • Scissors
    • Tape
    • A sheet of paper labelled ‘oven’
    • Order sheets with sections for: the order, if it’s been placed, and if it’s been delivered
    • A timer or any other similar device

Developed in 2011 by Agile42, the Kanban Pizza game is a short and fun exercise that promotes the Kanban system and principles.

If you need a refresher, these are the Kanban principles:

    • Evolutionary change
    • Sticking with existing processes
    • Respecting existing roles and titles
    • Developing leadership at all levels

During the game, teams should learn the following:

    • How a Kanban system can be created from existing processes
    • How a Kanban system can be planned and implemented
    • How Kanban Boards should be based on context and adapted to the current task
    • How to limit WIPs (Work in Progress) and the impact that this will have
    • Organisational skills
    • The ability to adapt to obstacles and new challenges

To begin with, each team will be given:

    • Post-it notes
    • Green (for the ‘rocket’)
    • Pink (for the ‘ham’)
    • Yellow (for the ‘cheese’)
    • Red markers (for the ‘tomato sauce’)
    • White paper (for the ‘pizza base’)
    • Scissors
    • Tape
    • The ‘oven’
    • Order sheets

The aim of the game is to make as many (completed!) pizza slices as possible and earn the most points.

Every finished slice is worth +10 points. If there’s only a pizza slice, without the tomato sauce, -3 points will be deducted. If the toppings haven’t been completed, -1 point will be deducted. All unfinished pizza slices will result in -5 points being deducted.

Once these have been distributed, Step One will create existing processes. Teams are given the challenge of building as many ham pizza slices as possible in the allocated time. To do this, the white paper should be cut into the shape of a triangular pizza base. This should then be filled in with the red marker, creating the ‘tomato sauce’. After this, the yellow post-it notes should be cut up into small cheese slices and stuck to the pizza. Finally, the post-it notes are to be cut up into small squares as the ‘ham’. Pizza slices should then be placed on-top of the ‘oven’, where there’s a maximum of 2 slices of pizza per oven. All slices must be cooked for 30 seconds.

The key aim here is to make as many slices of pizza as possible and to avoid waste (i.e. the raw materials, cheese and ham, which have been prepared but not used).

After the time is up, the Step Two will begin. All teams should collaborate amongst themselves, discussing how WIPs can be reduced and how best to visualise the workflow. Questions that could be asked are…

    • Should we create a storage place for materials?
    • How can we limit WIPs?
    • Have the pizza materials been piling up and becoming waste? How can we improve this?
    • How do the pizzas look? Are they of a high quality? They must covered well with the tomato sauce, have an equal amount of toppings, and cut neatly.

Once this has been completed, the half-cooked and delivered pizzas can be thrown away. Any left-over raw materials will be kept for the next stage.

Step Three is fairly simple. Step One should be repeated (making ham pizzas) and Step Two should be implemented into the workflow and system.

Things will get a bit trickier with Step Four. Alongside the ham pizzas, the teams will need to make pizza with a rocket topping. There should only be 6 pieces of rocket per slide and these must be added to the pizza after it has been taken out of the oven. Orders will contain multiple pizzas, of both kinds, and points will only be awarded if the whole order is fulfilled and delivered.

In Step Five, teams should continue to make pizzas. They should also collaborate and discuss how they can improve again.

Step Six will have all teams creating a tailored Kanban Board for their work. These boards should be based on the following template:



Teams should ask themselves: What needs to be planned? What needs to be done? What needs to be checked? What needs to be finished? Add separate, custom columns for each category. For planning, this could include ‘(a) pizza slices need cut’ and ‘(b) cutting the toppings’.

For the final stage, teams should use their Kanban Boards and what they have learned during the game to deliver the last orders. The winning team will have the most points!


Skills, tools and techniques the Kanban Pizza game may help you with include Communication, Flow, Kanban, PDCA, Teamwork and Work in Progress (WIP).


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