A Game Board- Element #3 of the Kanban

Jim BensonPrimers3 Comments

Whether it’s Parcheesi or trading individual stocks, we thrive on games. There are three commonly cited elements for all games: a goal, suspense, and rewards.

But most games rely on something even more basic. They have flow – a mixture of structure, story, and events that pull you and peak your interest. As you get caught in the flow of a game, you know the goals you are working toward, the way the game has behaved in the past, and a bounded rationality of what to expect in the future. If something violently outside the rules or expectations of the game happens, you feel that is unfair.

The kanban is a game board of work. There are definite goals, a variety of victory and loss conditions, suspense, and certainly flow.

Flow is primarily achieved by two things:

1. limiting work in progress

2. policies or experiments we are running on the board

Limiting WIP is vital for the game to exist at all. All games run on an economy of movement, you must complete a task before you can move on to the next. There is no way to do things “faster”. Adhering to the rules of the game allows for flow which builds suspense and keeps people interest. Keeping true to the game also provides rewards like completion, quality, and continuous improvement.

Jim BensonA Game Board- Element #3 of the Kanban

3 Comments on “A Game Board- Element #3 of the Kanban”

  1. Paul Boos


    This is an excellent comparison (at least as far as board game designs); boardgames have explicit policies in the rules which also describe their WIP limits for a person on their turn. (WIP may be limited by the number of actions or choices you have available or through scarcity of resources.) They also usually describe your constraints and/or order of work as well. This perhaps is why the GetKanban game exists. 🙂 It was easy to translate the Kanban viewpoint to a game design.


    1. Jim Benson


      Very much so.

      Corey Ladas and I built a kanban game rather similar, but not as complex, as GetKanban when we first started Modus. Given that it’s visual and real-time it was easy to build. Russ’ game is much more advanced. At Kaizen Camp this week, some people will be running the latest version of GetKanban. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  2. Pingback: 13 Elements Of Kanban – The July Personal Kanban Series | Personal Kanban

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