Cups & Straws Module

Posted on by Brandon Klein

This module was originally developed by Sandy Worthing and Andy Heppelle.

This module is a small team activity that can be tailored for multiple experiential learning goals.

It can focus on:
 - Benefit of Rapid Prototype - for the team that is considering changing the way that they build products (IT or non IT alike)

 - Benefit of Client Intimacy - for the team that is trying to become more responsive/interactive with their Clients and more agile in the Market

 - Benefit of Cross Disciplinary Communication - for the team that is in an organization that has barriers to intergroup collaboration

Debriefs of the Session tend to be very rich with a focus on the "voice of the Customer" and "how it feels" when you are forced to "just do the job as laid out in the written requirements".

This module also relates to the Pattern Language article on The Value of Indirection.



Basic instructions:

Round 1: Customer Team Moderator/Facilitator: Brief the Customers on what the other teams are doing, then Launch them into building the prototype for round 2 (based on a prefab prototype we build the night before). Provide a template that makes it easy for them to record the successful results. Prompt them to think about what they expect, as a Customer, from their Suppliers, when it comes to communication and product delivery. Ask them to compare their prototype to the written requirements and see if they think it is easier to build from written specifications or from a model or picture.


Round 2: Customer Team Moderator/Facilitator: Have the team quickly change their prototype. As they will start to get products in and it stops their ability to do their jobs. As they make jokes or observations about the progress of their teams, it worked well to ask them if they would share their observations at the Debrief. Explain that in the next round they may indeed be asked to join their production team and ensure that they understand their mission is to continue to record successful products and to show the team what they want (whatever prototype they want) as soon as they get there (ask them to focus on a quick simple change that forces their team to react and change any products that they haven’t yet delivered ( hoping the focus here will be on agility and Client responsiveness)


Key Observations:

- Building the Prototype to start everything was genious (thanks Andy L)

- Having separation in the space by using the shipping/Receiving station Rocked

- Having the Shipper/Receiver either bring product to the Customers or tell them that a shipment had arrived worked well.

- Ensuring that products were counted and recorded as quickly as possible made a big difference. Those Customers that got behind, bogged down the process (although that was a good conversation point in the Customer team)




  Click to download all the assignment files