Two new Featureban translations

As described on the Featureban page:

Featureban is a simple, fun, and highly customisable kanban simulation game. We use it in our own Agendashift workshops, and it has been used by trainers and coaches in Lean, Agile and Kanban-related events the world over.

There are now four translations from the original English:

  • French, by Alexis Ulrich
  • Polish, by Radosław Orszewski
  • Russian, by Aleksei Pimenov
  • Italian, by Massimo Sarti

Thank you Aleksei and Massimo for the new translations! Get them all here.

See also Changeban –  a Lean Startup-inspired derivative of Featureban. If you’ve read chapter 5 of the Agendashift book, the design will be familiar.

Related posts:

Upcoming workshops:

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Featureban 2.2 (and a special offer)

For the uninitiated, Featureban is our simple, fun, and highly customisable kanban simulation game, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

There were already some minor updates pending, but the biggest change was inspired by an exercise described in the first chapter of the new book Practical Kanban by my friend Klaus Leopold. With the board full of work-in-progress (WIP), how long will it take to clear it? Or in other words, roughly how long will the next piece of work take, assuming it’s of normal priority and doesn’t get to jump over everything else?

The price of Klaus’s book goes up with each completed chapter, but he has kindly given us a coupon that fixes the price at just $4 until the end of May. Grab yours here:


  • Hidden slides for the reference of the facilitator are now clearly marked as such
  • Clarified the wording of the pairing rule
  • New ‘Take Stock’ slides at the end of iterations 1 & 2, the review of WIP described above
  • ‘Cleaned up’ the debrief slides
    • What was that like?
    • Then what happens?
    • What just happened?
  • The ‘By the same author’ slide now includes the Agendashift book
  • Added a final slide with a link to Okaloa Flowlab, a fully productionised simulation game and workshop initially inspired by Featureban, by my friends Patrick Steyaert and Arlette Vercammen

See also

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Featureban 2.1 (unplugged)

Last night I ran a small Featureban session (7 people across 2 games) at our local meetup (Spire Digital meetup in Chesterfield, Derbyshire) and I thought it would be fun to do it “unplugged”, without the deck. I decided to capture my preparation in the deck itself so that others could use it; this in turn created an opportunity to make two unrelated changes I had pending (both optional). Let’s start with those.

New: “What would you change”

For this optional addition I’m indebted to Patrick Steyaert and Andy Carmichael.

Featureban already makes the connection between the rules of the game and the “policies” of the Kanban Method practice “Make policies explicit”. Patrick and Andy’s idea was to encourage experimentation with the rules, just as we would encourage real-world policies to evolve in the pursuit of improvement.

Some facilitators have sought to distinguish between policies that are fixed and those that the players are free to experiment with. I have left it more open:

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-09-43-59If you’re going to do this, I would recommend introducing it in the middle of Iteration 3 (Metrics).

New: Start tracking in Iteration 2

In the new hidden facilitator’s overview slide for iteration 2 you will find this addition:

  • Optionally:
    • Keep track of “day number”; write the day number on stickies when you start them (leaving existing in-progress stickies as they are)
    • Stop this iteration when when all your in-progress stickies have a day number on them and you’ve completed all the stickies that were still in progress at the end of iteration 1

We did this last night, and I consider it a success. It adds a small overhead to iteration 2 but it is outweighed by the extra sense of objective given to that iteration (flushing out all the old stickies) and its immediate impact to iteration 3. No longer do we need to wait for several rounds in iteration 3 before we start to see items completed with known lead times.


In the deck, each iteration is now preceded by a hidden slide with a facilitator’s overview. I printed these four-to-a-page, the fourth page being a picture of the board (slide 3). You can see them here taped to the back of my board, stiffened with a rigid A3 foam tile I bought from Staples (they’re quite handy – I keep a few of these in my bag to protect my materials). I referred to mine only once but it was good to know that they were there!


As you can see, I also printed the rules page for iteration 1, one copy per team. There is no need to print the rules for later iterations.

It turns out that the picture slide I printed (upper right of the four) doesn’t demonstrate the ideal setup for explaining the rules unplugged. You may have noticed in that the setups used in the deck to explain the rules for heads, tails, and blockers differ slightly. I used this setup instead, which has two stickies owned by me (MB), one of them blocked:


I have now added an updated hidden slide for reference. While I explained the rules, I moved stickies and pretended to write on them (without actually marking them).


A final picture: here’s the histogram we made from the stickies completed in iteration 3:


We sketched a run chart and a CFD also (no pictures, alas), and discussed Little’s Law also.

Further information

Interested in facilitating Featureban yourself? These are the main places to visit:

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Featureban 2.0

If you’re reading about Featureban for the first time, be aware that there have been updates since this page was first published in 2016. For all Featureban-related posts, click here, and for the Featureban landing page, here. See also Changeban, a new Lean-Startup flavoured variant, with posts here, and landing page here. Enjoy!

As mentioned in the May roundup, I’ve released a new 2.0 version of the Featureban simulation game, the simple, fun, and highly customisable kanban simulation game. We use Featureban in our own training workshops, and it has been used by trainers and coaches in Lean, Agile, and Kanban-related events the world over.

This version consolidates a number of incremental improvements I’ve made and tested in training over the months, plus a complete change to the game scenario.  The rules are basically unchanged, though there’s an optional rule change slide to be introduced at the facilitator’s discretion.

The PDF of the slide deck is freely downloadable and I’m happy to give out the source files on request.  Featureban is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and customisation is encouraged!

Do read Featureban facilitation information and downloads if you are planning to try it.


  • New scenario – No longer car-related (too reminiscent of manufacturing), it’s now based on a supermarket website, still with a few quirky feature ideas thrown in. Some of the example features are just product lines, so it should still be very easy for people to come up with feature ideas.
  • Nicer visuals, much easier to edit in Powerpoint
  • Two coin-related slides:
    1. What does the coin represent? (See blog post)
    2. No coin? (Welcome to our cashless society!)
  • The slide on blocked work items now follows the coin slide
  • Two “Setup” slides
  • Clearer rules slides
  • An optional intervention with a  rule change – stop play and introduce during iteration 1 if you wish. See Frustrated with throwing too many tails in Featureban?
  • Easier, more subjective debriefs
  • Consolidated the Kanban Method slides after the iteration 2 debrief. Previously, the transparency-related practices were described after iteration 1; now it should be apparent to participants that visual management is not enough on its own.
  • Incorporated some improvements to the metrics slides from Vicy Wenzelmann at Leanovate
  • Reference to Kanban from the Inside under my CFD (taken from my case study)
  • A slide encouraging participants to do an Agendashift values-based delivery assessment on the game scenario (and for themselves if they so wish)
  • A minor layout change to the board, grouping the two in-progress columns together (credit to Susanne and Andreas Bartel for that I think)


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What does the coin represent?

We’re about to play Featureban and we’ve reached the coin slide.

Redwood Photography, via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

“Everybody needs a coin – have you got one (or access to one)?”

Inevitably, some borrowing and lending ensues. “An exercise in trust, this bit!”

“Can you think what the what your coins might represent?”

Chance, you say? Decisions?

Those are both good answers, but not precisely the one I was looking for. Apologies for using a piece of jargon (we really do try to keep that to an absolute minimum), but the coin is a source of what we call ‘variation’.

I’m sure that nothing like this never happens in your company, but let me tell you about an effect I’ve noticed elsewhere. Sometimes, a 1-day piece of work becomes a 2-day, 3-day, even 8-day piece of work. Something we thought would take a day, takes eight! Shocking, isn’t it! But you never see it here, right?

Joking aside, it should not be surprising that in our line of work we see plenty of variation. How often do we start a piece of work with just a sticky note or email’s worth of information? Does anyone really know at this stage what’s involved? Of course not. And even after we dig into it, there are always new things to discover (it’s not called ‘knowledge work’ for nothing), dependencies to manage, people changing their minds (for good reasons as well as bad), bugs, absences (planned and unplanned), and so on.

Would it not make sense then to manage our work using systems that comfortably deal with variation – embrace it even – as opposed to pretending that it doesn’t exist or unfairly blaming people when it manifests itself? That’s what we’re going to experience in our game.

Some of you will get frustrated by this variation. Use that feeling! We’ll learn how to go about doing something about it too.


In all fairness to Mr Deming (see On not teaching PDCA for why I have some making up to do), variation is a word forever associated with the great man. “Understanding variation” is part 2 of his 4-part System of Profound Knowledge.

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Featureban’s new home

The Featureban game – a simple, fun, and highly customisable kanban simulation game – now has its very own page on Any significant updates will be posted here on the Agendashift blog; join the Agendashift LinkedIn group to be sure of not missing anything.

Last week in Moscow I facilitated six concurrent games at Lean Kanban Russia 2015. We then used the game as our base scenario for a series of exercises on hypothesis-driven change, connected by an Agendashift assessment online. The two sessions together make up the morning half of our 1-day introductory workshop in Values-based change with Agendashift and the Kanban Method. You want a quick workshop? We can do it!

Visit now: Featureban facilitation information and downloads. Not only is Featureban free, it is published under a Creative Commons license and is easily adaptable to your needs. Enjoy!

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