Montag, 2. November 2020

The UFG Catering Simulation (a. k. a. Ubongo Flow Game Remote)

Some readers already know the Ubongo Flow Game, in which we use the Ubongo game material to show the impact of process changes on results. We transferred the idea into an online simulation.

Fig. 1: UFG Catering Simulation

About this game

This game simulates project work with different roles in 6 minutes. Players process customer orders for a catering service. It measures how many people a team serves in one round. The aim is to supply at least 84 people with 6 orders.

The game has a total of 3 rounds. In each round, something is changed in the process (waterfall, Kanban, Scrum). Players experience that the way you work together has a lot more influence on the outcome than the individual competence or motivation of the players.

Join us (Holger and Jan). We regularly post our next appointments on Xing and LinkedIn to inform about our next webinars and dates.

Credits go to Antje Lehmann-Benz, who translated parts of this instructions from German into English language.

Material

This is an online simulation. For this we need:

  • One online board per team (e.g. Trello)
  • One order list per team (in this guide)
  • A timer (e. g. https://cuckoo.team/)
  • A table for the results (for example, in MS Excel or LibreOffice Calc)

Online board

For this simulation, we need a virtual board per team. On the board we need 6 lists (=columns) for the start:

  • Sponsor: here there are 36 orders in random order
  • Analyst: (the list is empty)
  • Supplier: (the list is empty)
  • Price analyst: (the list is empty)
  • Tester: (the list is empty)
  • Shipped: (the list is empty)

Each list is assigned to a player on the team, for example, inserting the person's name in parentheses:

  • Sponsor (Alice)
  • Analyst (Bob)
  • Supplier (Charlie)
  • Price analyst (Dorothy)
  • Tester (Elisabeth)
  • Shipped (Fred)

Orders

There are 36 orders from which the sponsor can choose. Each order has the following information:

Fig. 2: Order description

  • Order number: simplifies communication among players
  • Number of people: how many people should be served. This number is measured per round.
  • Order type: determines what to deliver (simple, medium, large) 
  • Context: gives an indication of food and beverages to be delivered if necessary
  • Special wishes: prefers or excludes certain foods and drinks.

There are 36 orders:

  • A01 Bachelor party (beer welcome) (large, 21 p.)
  • A02 Debate night (simple, 8 p.)
  • A03 Holy communion (nut allergy) (simple, 13 p.)
  • A04 Movie night (vegan) (medium, 8 p.)
  • A05 Debate night (champagne welcome) (large, 8 p.)
  • A07 40th birthday (simple, 21 p.)
  • A09 Chimney night (medium, 8 p.)
  • A10 Bachelor party (large, 13 p.)
  • A11 Confirmation (simple, 13 p.)
  • A12 80th birthday (no wine) (large, 13 p.)
  • A13 Opening party (champagne welcome) (medium, 21 p.)
  • A14 16th birthday (simple, 13 p.)
  • A15 Movie night (medium, 5 p.)
  • A17 40th birthday (no beer) (medium, 13 p.)
  • A18 Confirmation (lactose intolerance) (medium, 8 p.)
  • A19 14th birthday (simple, 8 p.)
  • A22 Bachelor party (medium, 21 p.)
  • A24 Holy communion (simple, 8 p.)
  • A31 Bachelor party (vegan) (medium, 13 p.)
  • A32 Opening party (simple, 21 p.)
  • A33 Confirmation (medium, 13 p.)
  • A34 40th birthday (medium, 21 p.)
  • A36 Confirmation (simple, 8 p.)
  • A41 Movie night (simple, 8 p.)
  • A42 Bachelor party (large, 8 p.)
  • A43 Opening party (wine welcome) (large, 21 p.)
  • A44 Grand opening (canapés welcome) (large, 13 p.)
  • A45 Grand opening (medium, 13 p.)
  • A46 Small wedding (simple, 5 p.)
  • A57 Debate night (simple, 13 p.)
  • A58 16th birthday (medium, 13 p.)
  • A59 Debate night (medium, 8 p.)
  • A61 Opening event (simple, 13 p.)
  • A62 Movie night (simple, 5 p.)
  • A73 80th birthday (nut allergy) (medium, 13 p.)
  • A74 Small wedding (simple, 13 p.)

Roles

Ideally, there are 6 people per team: client, analyst, supplier, price setter, tester, manager. We have found that in the simulations often one person in the team cannot continue to play (difficulties with the technology, child or neighbor needs attention). Assign a seventh person who is an observer first and, if necessary, jumps in for someone else. Attention: It is easier if there are two game hosts. One who gives the instructions and one who maintains the board.

Sponsor: Find 6 orders:

  • 2 orders for 8 persons
  • 2 orders for 13 persons
  • 2 orders for 21 persons

Move the desired orders to the top before moving all 6 orders to the next column to the analyst.

Analyst: Open one card at a time and enter (only) the text for the template. There are three different types of orders: simple, medium, large.

Fig. 3: The analyst enters the text of the template.

  • Simple order: There is a snack from a bag and soft drinks.
  • Medium order: Instead of snacks, there is now finger food and drinks without and with alcohol.
  • Large order: There are snacks, finger food as well as drinks without and with alcohol.

The analyst would only insert the text with the template. What is available is decided by the supplier. Do not move the 6 orders until you have processed all the orders.

Supplier: Open one card at a time and enter a dish and a drink to deliver. (For simplicity, one dish or one drink per category is sufficient.) You can choose from the following list or use your own suggestions. Pay attention to any special wishes of the customer.

  • Snacks: e.g. crisps, flips, nuts, liquorice, gummy bears
  • Finger food: e.g. sandwiches, meatballs, canapés, falafel
  • Drinks without alcohol: e.g. water, cola, lemonade, orange juice, apple juice, milk, cocoa
  • Drinks with alcohol: e.g. beer, champagne, wine, liqueur

Do not move the 6 orders until you have processed all the orders.

Price analyst: Open one card at a time and determine the price of the order. There is a price list. First, determine the individual prices and then multiply this value by the number of people.

  • Snacks: 1 €/person
  • Finger food: 3 €/person
  • Drinks without alcohol: 2 €/person
  • Drinks with alcohol: 4 €/person
Fig. 4: The price analyst calculates the total amount (single prices times number of persons).

Do not move the 6 orders until you have processed all the orders.

Tester:
Open one card at a time and check the job:

  • Correct template?
  • Correct prices? Totals?
  • Special wishes respected?

If you find an error, just correct it.

Manager: You are responsible for the smooth running of the catering service. In particular, make sure that the rule "only pass on 6 orders at a time" is adhered to.

Observer/Jumper:
The observer pays attention to the group and gives feedback later in the evaluation. If a team member fails, he or she takes over the role in consultation.

Goal of the game

Experience the effects of process changes. The group plays three different process models (variants of waterfall, kanban and scrum). By the way, the simulation is not meant to show that one method is better than another. The simulation is intended to show that we can influence the results much more through the way we work together than through individual competence and motivation.

Situation:

  • The team works together on the customer orders.
  • The aim is to supply at least 84 people (2x8, 2x13, 2x21 persons) in the time of 6 minutes.
  • The customer orders consist of food deliveries according to the customer's wishes.

Game sequence

The game consists of three rounds. Don't reveal what you change in rounds 2 and 3. Before you have to explain the process and in the end you should evaluate the experience with the players.

Duration

Schedule 1.5-2 hours for the simulation. The individual rounds last only 6 minutes at a time. But with explanations and coordination, you need a little more time.

Preparing for Round 1

Prepare the board before you start the simulation.

  • If you play with multiple teams, create a separate board for each team. A team consists of 5-7 persons.
  • Create 6 lists (=columns): Sponsor (), Analyst (), Supplier (), Price analyst (), Tester (), Delivered in round 1 ().
  • Create the orders (see above).
  • Tell all players that they need to log in to Trello (or your selected Kanban system).
  • Send the one-page quick guide to print in advance.

Fig. 5: Structure for Round 1

 Explain the process and divide teams

  • Explain the goal of the simulation.
  • Give a brief introduction to the virtual board. At Trello, we deal with the following points:
    • What is a board? (Each team gets its own board)
    • What is a list (column)?
    • What is a card (title, description, comments, checklist, person assignment)?
    • How to move cards from list to list?
  • Explain the roles. Demonstrate how a job is processed.
  • Divide teams. Send the boards links to the teams (for example, in the chat of your video conferencing software). Each player enters his or her name in the list heading. If necessary, give the teams time to tune in in break-out sessions.
  • Point out that a round takes 2 x 3 minutes.

Round 1

The roles and tasks have already been presented. Now the time is started. Set the clock to 3 minutes. When the time is up, ask everyone involved to stop working. Managers must now create a report. To do this, the manager should first discuss with the team: Where are we? Are we still achieving the target of 84 people? Experience has shown that no team has anything done after three minutes. Enter the number of people served in your table (usually 0 persons). Set the clock to three minutes again and let the teams continue to work. When the time is up, have the manager create a report again. In general the teams rarely serve the requested number of persons. Enter the final result in your scoreboard.

Evaluation of Round 1

Ask the group what happened. Why have we not achieved the objective? If you want, you can use typical management phrases: "No wonder this doesn't work. They are not passionate and motivated. But we need motivated employees here." Perhaps someone cites as the reason that everyone had to wait. Confirm this. We will change that in the next round. Ask if teams feel familiar about such situations.

Background: This round depicts a classic waterfall with fixed responsibilities and large batches.

Preparing for Round 2

In the second round we change the batch size. Instead of passing on 6 orders, everyone is allowed to pass on the order as long as there are not already 2 orders in the next station (WIP limit = 2). 

Prepare the board:

  • In the sponsor column, you need the 36 orders again.
  • In the other columns (except the Delivered column), delete all started jobs.
  • Create a list for the finished orders from Round 2 (e.g. "Delivered in round 2")
  • Add in the lists. "max 2".
Fig. 6: Structure for round 2

Round 2

Start the time. Set the clock to 3 minutes. When the time is up, ask everyone involved to stop working. Managers must now create a report. To do this, the manager should first discuss with the team: Where are we? Experience has shown that all teams have already finished something. For each team, enter the number of people served in your table. Set the clock to three minutes again and let the teams continue to work. When the time is up, have the manager create a report again. Enter the final result.

Activities at a glance:

  • Start timer with 3 minutes
  • After the time has elapsed: Have a report drawn up and enter the current number of people served.
  • Start the timer again with 3 minutes.
  • After the time has elapsed: Have a report drawn up and enter the current number of people supplied.

Evaluation of Round 2

Ask the group what happened. Have we achieved the goal? Most of the time, the teams have more or less made it to the finish line. Point to the data. Ask the group if this was a good change or a bad change? (This is empirical work, by the way. You make hypotheses, collect data and evaluate the result on the basis of the data.) It is already clear that the work result depends on the system of cooperation and not on the motivation of the employees. The same work was done as in the first round. But the team has done more overall. Here you can also see that you have to look at the whole system. It is not enough for a person to work faster. It depends on the entire throughput.

Background: in this round the players get to know Kanban and WIP-Limits.

Preparing for Round 3

In the third round, we drop the specialization. There are no more permanent jobs except for the sponsor and manager. Anyone who has nothing to do will get the next order from the sponsor and process it. There is one important rule: no one tests his/her own work (and there is no tester role). 

Prepare the board:

  • In the sponsor column, you need the 36 orders.
  • In the other columns (except the Delivered column), delete all started jobs.
  • Create a new list for the finished orders from Round 3 (e.g. "Delivered in Round 3")
  • Delete or move the lists for Analyst, Supplier, Price analyst, and Tester.
  • Create new lists "in progress" and "in test".

Fig. 7: Structure for round 3

Third (and last) round

Set the clock to TWO minutes and let the teams work. When the time is up, have the manager create a report again. Enter the current number of persons served. Players now need to agree on an improvement measure. Repeat until the 6 minutes are over. 

Activities at a glance:

  • Start timer with 2 minutes
  • After the time has elapsed: Have a report drawn up and enter the current number of people served. Team is actively looking for improvements.
  • Start the timer again with 2 minutes.
  • After the time has elapsed: Have a report drawn up and enter the current number of people served. Team is actively looking for improvements.
  • Start the timer again with 2 minutes.
  • After the time has elapsed: Have a report drawn up and enter the current number of people supplied.

Evaluation of the third round

Ask the group what happened. Have we achieved the goal? Most of the time, the teams have done a lot more. Point to the data. Ask the group if this was a good change or a bad change? Why have we finished more? They were the same people and the same work. In this round we see very clearly that the way we work together has a very big impact on the outcome.

Background: interdisciplinary teams are a feature of Scrum.

Fig. 8: Example results of 2 teams after 3 rounds

Why does the game work?

The simulation works well:

  • No team can do anything in the first round. The large batches lead to long waiting times. It only works if the analysis is finished very quickly and there is a good calculator in the team.
  • Even if a team manages everything in the first round. In the second round it manages much more and delivers earlier.
  • In the third round, the interfaces are eliminated.

Terms

Everyone is allowed to use this simulation. We kindly ask you to mention the original authors and the references to this game guide. 

Example text: UFG Catering Simulation by Jan Fischbach and Holger Lotter/Scrum Events, www.teamworkblog.de

Material

There is also accompanying material for this guide: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15n7lyjm7quhuaJq_B-p5t8sp-QWV-4cy/

This archive contains the following files: One-page Quick Start Guide. The PDF version will be sent to the players for printing in advance.

  • UFG catering instructions (players).pdf
  • UFG catering instructions (players).pptx
  • UFG catering instructions (player).odp

Presentation to the presentation of the simulation

  • UFG catering (Introduction).pptx
  • UFG catering (Introduction).odp
  • UFG Catering (Introduction).pdf

Text file with jobs for Trello.

  • UFG Orderlist.txt

Table document to view the results.

  • UFG Catering Results.xlsx
  • UFG Catering Results.ods


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