This game will demonstrate that, far from purely being confined to the festive season, snowflakes can play an all-year-round role in being beneficial when learning and applying lean principles.

Communicating an idea is not just about providing all of the necessary information, it requires that the information is understood. Even if you have the greatest business model in the world, nothing can come of it if your employees and peers have no earthly idea what you expect them to do. The snowflake game aims to highlight how difficult it can be to both give and understand instructions, as well as the importance of clear communication.

The steps to play are as follows:

  1. Divide into groups composed on snowflake designers and snowflake manufacturers
  2. The manufacturers will leave the room
  3. Each group of snowflake designers design a paper snowflake by making cuts in a folded piece of paper
  4. Designers will then write a set of instructions for their snowflake manufacturers
  5. Manufacturers return to the room­
  6. The manufacturers will, without input from the designers, attempt to re-create the original snowflake from the instructions given
  7. The winning team will be selected based on the similarity of the manufactured snowflake to the original and the complexity of the snowflake design

Once the game is completed, gather as a group to reflect upon the outcomes and discuss the key ideas and questions surrounding the game.

How did the complexity of the design impact the effectiveness of the written instructions? Did the design team underestimate the difficulty?

What were the different perspectives between the design team and manufacturer?

What could have been done to make the process more effective and leaner?

How might the lessons learned from this game apply to the workplace?

Effective communication is key to business success, so it is vital to understand the complexities and put oneself in other people’s shoes when providing instructions or discussion ideas.