The Ball Game is a game that can help players internalise the lean principles of eliminating waste, continuously improving and aiming for perfection. It helps you to look at a situation that may initially seem straightforward and look for potential areas of growth.

To play, you will need a group of at least five people, a timer and a ball.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Gather a team and estimate how long you believe it will take to pass the ball between everyone
  2. The only rules are that the ball must have air, everybody must touch the ball, it must follow the same pattern and the starting point is the end point
  3. Complete your first attempt at passing the ball around to everyone

Within the group, discuss why it took the amount of time it did. Were there any errors? How might you improve in order to get the time down?

  1. Then try it again differently, trying to complete this task as quickly as possible

Some questions to pose afterwards:

  • How quickly can it be done? Look for possible areas of waste: is there too much movement? How close is everyone? Is there a better way?
  • How did you come up with the original estimate in regards to how long it would take to complete the objective? Was it accurate? How far off?
  • How did the team improve each time?
  • What was the time difference between the first and last attempts? How did the approaches differ?
  • Did members naturally take on specific roles within the group? How did group dynamics influence efficiency?

The objective of lean is to eliminate waste and continuously improve. It requires you to think outside the box, examine traditional practices to look for excess actions and coordinate to produce a well-oiled machine. The ball game allows players to develop these skills in a low-stress environment in order to continuously improve and think through how best to approach problems.