Why we love the Lean Game (and you should too)

#Why we love the Lean Game (and you should too)

Tight schedules and high stakes are pretty common in the Life Sciences industry and due to this continuous pressure, we sometimes forget to ask ourselves the right questions and challenge processes which have been in place for so long. When is the last time you asked yourself this like: “It may be effective, but how efficient? And what does it mean in terms of costs? And does it even increase certainty?”

• We always get the drug product manufactured in time, no matter what it takes!
• We deliver the project results, but it takes a lot of hard work to get everybody aligned.
• We filed the regulatory dossier, but it was a very complicated and extensive process!
• As logistics department, we are the last one in the chain and therefore our timelines are always tight and mistakes are easily made.

If any of these quotes seem familiar you and your colleagues might benefit from a Lean Game. Experience these sorts of practical examples in a Lean Game customised for the Life Sciences Industry!

Most industries are applying Lean Six Sigma principles in their projects and processes in order to optimise results and to deliver robust and optimal solutions. Originally part of Toyota’s Just-in-time Manufacturing, this strategy is now also widely implemented in biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies in which waste reduction, time-saving and process improvement can make a significant difference, not just to the manufacturing processes but also to product and process development, Quality Assurance and laboratories. To experience these situations, we have developed a Lean Game specifically for Life Sciences companies. The Lean Game is a practical example of all the challenges we face in our daily work life. The Lean Game is about applying five principles consistently and rigorously. In short: produce exactly what and when the customer needs, without any waste.

The set-up

Pretend we have a pharmaceutical company, Xendo Pharma, which produces Xendolor tablets of 1, 2, and 5 mg. We get orders from our customer, GB Pharma which brings Xendolor to the market in 3 different countries. Your staff is divided into groups of about 8 players and each player represents an employee with a different role within the company; and one customer.


• A demanding customer
• A manager with a lot on his mind
• A meticulous planner – who takes orders from the customer and ensures the production planning
• Primary Packaging operator “does what is told” – responsible for the first line of packaging
• Secondary Packaging operator – responsible for the second line of packaging
• Internal transport - carries all materials to the various locations
• Warehousing – stores all of the product
• Distribution - handles customer orders and delivers the products
• Qualified Person – takes his QA role very seriously
• Improvement Engineer – enjoys improving all the time

These roles all have fictive actions similar to real-life experiences like gathering different tablets and creating batches, adding product labels and expiry dates, and continuously keeping up with documentation. After a brief explanation, three rounds are to be completed, with the ultimate goal of delivering the right quality at the right time to our demanding customer. Between round, each team has its own improvement workshop “kaizen” to figure out how to remove unnecessary motion, improve flow and to come up with an improved process and demonstrate it in the next round.


Another important aspect is the discussion between the different groups to come up with best practices. It’s all about speed and flexibility versus compliance and documentation. In fact, dilemmas we normally encounter in real life, also pop up during the game. Of course, all throughout the game, participants have every possibility to ask questions to the Black Belt who facilitates the Lean Game to learn as much about Lean Six Sigma and how it might apply to their daily activities.
The game is concluded with a break-out session on how we can apply the principles learned in our daily work; this way you can put your newly found knowledge to the test immediately. The average length of a Lean Game is approximately 3 hours after which your team is educated and motivated to start improving efficiently.The outcome of a Lean Game is an enthused team with higher team spirit, a general awareness of lean principles and the possibility to identify improvement opportunities in your daily work.

When you are interested in learning what Lean can do for your organisation, or when you are interested in a team building exercise with your department or company, use the contact form on the right and we will get back to you to discuss the possibilities. We invite you to challenge yourself, your colleagues, and your processes and try our Lean Game.


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