Get Lean with Pizza?

Some of the folks over at the Lean Forums were expressing their need for value stream mapping (vsm) simulation games, so lean consultant and author, Bob Petruska, explained the “Pizza Game” which he plays with his Schwan coworkers (he uses this analogy because one of the Schwan plants makes frozen pizzas).

According to Petruska, they draw the factory to scale on a table with grid paper, and have different departments move the pizza through their zones “adding toppings, baking, freezing, palletizing, storage, loading, and delivery,” while each team member performs specific tasks, including recording defects, diagrams, etc.

The pizzas are represented by poker chips and the toppings are stickers.  All orders for production were paper and they incorporated “built-in wastes,” and all of this was meant for employees to enjoy this kind of system while seeing the different kinds of waste in the process.

I think that a game like this brings the system to a more manageable level for everybody.  Not all workers are familiar with the entire manufacturing process, so a “cartoony” version can sometimes provide that “Aha!” moment – and, judging from the response by other lean professionals on the forum, Mr. Petruska’s little pizza game gives everybody the chance to understand the benefits and workings of value streams and, ultimately, lean.