Icebreaker exercises are commonly used at the beginning of workshops to “warm up” the the group and are a great way to help members of a group form into a team or get to know each other. An icebreaker ideally should be fun and related to the theme of the workshop that you are facilitating. Here, we present the Lean Icebreaker Exercise – “The Standard Fish Game”. This exercise is about documenting the process for drawing a fish which matches the customers expectations. It can be used when facilitating a lean workshop as it highlights the importance of standard work.

Standard work is a lean tool that aims to document the best practice and process to complete work ensuring that the customer receives consistency and quality in the end product. It is also helpful for training new team members and sets up a baseline for continuous improvement.

Materials required:

  1. Plain A4 Paper
  2. Numbered Grided A4 paper (3×3)
  3. Instructions printed out
  4. Sharpies

Running the Exercise

  1. Give everyone a piece of plain white A4 paper and a sharpie
  2. Tell the team to draw a fish in 2 minutes
  3. After 2 minutes, get everyone to show their fish. There will be large variation in the types of fish and artistic creations. This is due to a lack of instructions on how to the draw the fish. This is not a documented standardized process. None of the fish are drawn to customer spec.
  4. Now distribute out the numbered grid A4 paper
  5. Read out the following instructions:
  6. Go to box 1, draw a letter X, where the points of the X reach the corners of the box. Draw a straight line from the top left point of the X to the bottom left point of the X to form a triangle.
  7. Go to box 2, draw an upward arc from the bottom left corner to the bottom right corner.
  8. Go to box 3, draw a downward arc from the top left corner to the top right corner.
  9. Go to box 4, draw an arc from the top left corner to the bottom left corner. Draw a circle left of the arc which is bisected by the gridline between box 5 and box 4 and 1/3 of the way down. Draw a semi-circle underneath the circle another 1/3 of the way down and also bisected by the line.
  10. Go top box 5, draw an upside down triangle around the number 5 which does not touch any line.
  11. You may need to repeat instructions or give assistance as needed
  12. When everyone is ready, review all the fish pictures, it should look like the image below. There may still be variations but through standard work there is more consistency and less variation. Compare the fish in the first exercise with the fish in the second exercise. The second set of drawing will be much more similar across the whole group. The waste in the process has been eliminated, and the standard of work will be much higher.

If you enjoyed this Lean Icebreaker Exercise – “The Standard Fish Game” and would like more information. Please call or email us for a free consultation.