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Playing Lean is the board game that teaches Lean Startup in a fun and engaging way - and in only 90 minutes.
Playing Lean is the board game that teaches Lean Startup in a fun and engaging way - and in only 90 minutes.
Playing Lean is the board game that teaches Lean Startup in a fun and engaging way - and in only 90 minutes.
357 backers pledged NOK 385,711 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Playing Lean relaunch: Play Leaner project video thumbnail
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Playing Lean relaunch: Play Leaner

NOK 385,711

357

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The Kickstarter for Playing Lean is over, but the journey continues at www.playinglean.com

Come join us!

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We reached all our stretch goals! All our backers got these bonuses:

150 backers = Free access to #startup for all backers ✔

240.000 NOK = Digital game expansion : A new industry chosen by you ✔

300.000 NOK = You get great printable posters to use in workshops! ✔

360.000 NOK = Worldwide workshops from Iterate! ✔

375.000 NOK = Online 1 hour Q&A session with Ash Maurya for all backers! ✔

Have a look further down the page for more details.

You can read about aerodynamics, but it won't teach how to fly. You can, however, learn how to fly in a flight simulator. It is a risk free environment where pilots-to-be can make wrong decisions without damaging expensive equipment or causing loss of life. 

Playing Lean is our "flight simulator" for innovation and Lean Startup. It's an enjoyable board game where players are forced to make difficult choices without risking their life savings or the future of their workplaces. The worst case scenario is a humiliating defeat at the hands of your colleagues (quite scary, actually).

Completely risk free. If you're not a sore loser, that is.
Completely risk free. If you're not a sore loser, that is.

I started working on a board game for Lean Startup two years ago. It started with two observations:

  • Learning about the Lean Startup can transform a workplace. Replace endless meetings and long reports with experiments and validated learning and let innovation bloom. If you have been there you know how different it is.
  • For many organisations, the stretch between great theory and inspiring cases to "getting out of the building" is just a bridge too far.

I saw how effective games and simulations were in other circumstances. I wanted the same for Lean Startup, but I could not find anything similar. Being a bit of a board game geek, I started playing around with some ideas.

Playing board games at work. Can it be any better?
Playing board games at work. Can it be any better?

After a little while, I found something that felt right. I tested it on a few occasions, and the game clearly had potential. Even so, it clearly required a lot of work to make into something usable.

I 3D printed the lower left one. Very, very cool.
I 3D printed the lower left one. Very, very cool.

Then I had my lucky break. His name is Tore, and he called me out of the blue. We had a chat and decided to join forces. Since then, we have tested and improved the game again and again (and again), right up until this point. In fact, tests are still going on at different places around the world.

Tore doing yet another play testing
Tore doing yet another play testing

Everyone! Just kidding. I think this game will be very handy for intrapreneurs. Getting your colleagues as excited as you are about the Lean Startup isn't easy, I know. If you can't get them onboard, you're the guy always nagging about hypotheses testing and validated learning, while everyone wants to get on with their lives.

It's not just a gut feeling. Have a look at this video. It was shot as players at an insurance company discussed what they learned from a play-through at the office. 

I came back a few weeks later. They were still referencing the lessons they learned from the game.

The game is super useful for startups too. New team member? Bring her onboard with a round of Playing Lean.

Don't take it from me, though. Take it from those who played the game:

“After the first round, everybody was hooked, invested, and actively participating in learning the best strategy for finding and selling to customers, the Lean Startup way!”

- Pete Oliver-Kruger, Entrepreneur in Residence

"I was doubtful that the game would be fun, but my expectations were totally blown away. I learned the value of removing features in order to transition one's product to newer bigger markets. It also helped that my team won!"

- Daniel Trejo, Product Engineer

"Playing Lean offers an excellent combination of learning in a group while having fun playing. It's a great game for learning Lean Startup principles!"

- Kristoffer B, Development Manager

You just can't make a board game about the Lean Startup without thinking about these things. You've already seen our high concept pitch: A flight simulator for Lean Startup (not quite "Jaws in space", but still). As for the UVP, we're pretty confident that we have have validated this:

A board game that teaches the basics of Lean Startup in 90 minutes

Wow! As if that wasn't enough, we have worked hard to make sure that our game is:

  • Easy to learn
  • Quick to set up
  • Fun to play
Play fast and break things
Play fast and break things

In Playing Lean, you take the part of a social media startup: Friendster, Myspace. Facebook or Twitter. These companies all started long before Eric Ries coined the term "Lean Startup", but what would history have looked like if they did? That's for you to decide.

Friendster and Myspace? Sure, when Playing Lean everything is possible!
Friendster and Myspace? Sure, when Playing Lean everything is possible!

You start out by setting up experiments to learn about your early adopters. Before long, you must make difficult choices about your course of action. Do you have enough knowledge to build your product or should you do just one more experiment to be sure?

Will your experiment succeed?
Will your experiment succeed?

As your competitors start building, the pressure mounts. Can you even catch up if you start lagging behind?

Players build, measure and learn their way through the market. They're chasing the red tile, representing the early majority market. Secure it, and you have won. As you celebrate your victory, it's good to remember that everyone are winners after a game of Playing Lean. Our currency is learning, after all. What will you do with your new knowledge?

while (true) { build(); measure(); learn();}
while (true) { build(); measure(); learn();}

Playing Lean is very much a community game. Lean Startup enthusiasts all over the world have tested and contributed until this very day, and will continue to do so. That's why Kickstarter is our best shot at making the game something more than a self-printed prototype.

We have other channels too. Like Twitter and Facebook. Do you like that?

All the money raised with this campaign goes into the development of Playing Lean. It's surprisingly expensive to make a board game, and not just the production cost. We've printed close to 30 versions of the game, just to make it perfect. We have a great team who must get paid for their excellent contributions. We want to print the game at the highest possible quality, so that your experience is flawless. 

In short, we appreciate your contribution very much.

Here's Katie, our gifted wordsmith. Cutting our own cards to keep costs down.
Here's Katie, our gifted wordsmith. Cutting our own cards to keep costs down.

The Key Metrics

Playing Lean takes 90 minutes to play. It's pretty consistent. I would recommend setting aside 2 hours, though. Take some time afterwards to discuss what happened and what startup lessons were learned.

It sounds self-serving, but our unfair advantage is the love and enthusiasm we get from all those who have played the game. They usually approach it with some healthy skepticism. "A home made game? Interesting." They almost always walk away from the game as Playing Lean supporters (you know who you are - thank you so much for your support!).

A fresh batch of Playing Lean supporters in the making
A fresh batch of Playing Lean supporters in the making

Die hard fans of Playing Lean will remember Playing Lean 1, the first and failed Kickstarter. What is different this time around, you ask? Here's what:

  • The funding goal is lower. We have found ways to make fewer games at a high quality. It's more expensive, but we will get the game out.
  • We have improved the game. With tons of feedback, we have found ways to simplify the gameplay while increasing the educational value.
  • We have brought Nils Holger Pohl onboard. Holger draws Alex Osterwalder's workshops live (very cool), and has lifted the game with great artwork.
  • Ash Maurya has joined the Playing Lean team, providing valuable advice. If we succeed, he'll write Ash's guide to Playing Lean and include it in the game!

Quite impressive, I would say. Now we only miss one crucial ingredient: You. With your support we can finally get this game out and spread fun, learning and Lean Startup to all those who need it.

We have worked hard to get some great rewards for you, and we're still on it. Look for updates as we get new rewards in place!

PLAYING LEAN: ILLUSTRATORS EDITION

Alexander Osterwalder said of Holger Nils Pohl: “We spend an insane amount of time on making our messages clear, simple, and visual. To achieve this we draw on Holger’s outstanding visual facilitation skills again and again.” Now we can vouch for Holger too. Working with him and his team has been a great experience!

This reward gets you three Playing Lean sketches and an exclusive webinar with Holger
This reward gets you three Playing Lean sketches and an exclusive webinar with Holger

 PLAYING LEAN: RUNNING WITH ASH

I first met Ash when I booked him for a workshop I set up for a client in 2012. It was a bit of a gamble. Could he really give valuable advice to 10 different teams with just 30 minutes for each of them. He could, and he did. I was amazed. Imagine what you can get out of two personals sessions?

 
Ash at the Iterate HQ. Soon having a 1-on-1 with you?
Ash at the Iterate HQ. Soon having a 1-on-1 with you?

Or if Lean UX is more your thing, join Jeff Gothelf, author of the Lean Series book "Lean UX", for lunch!

Stretch goals

Here's our first stretch goal:

When we hit 150 backers: You got free access to #startup

What began as an MVP that went out of control is now the global startup community, on Slack. This is where founders can interact with each other, and now also players in our own #playinglean channel. Access to #startup costs $22 - unless for Playing Lean backers!

When we hit 240.000 nok = You got a digital game expansion : A new industry chosen by you

Social Media is the first of the Industries you can have a go at in Playing Lean. But we have made sure that it's easy to create expansions. New Industries equals more varied play, more fun and more learning for you!

When we reach 300.000 NOK = You get great printable posters to use in workshops!

Playing Lean has a lot of Lean Startup vocabulary. Wouldn't it be great with posters that add a little more meat to the bone? When we meet this stretch goal, Holger will use his illustration magic to make it happen.

Risks and challenges

While we have not designed and delivered a board game before, I feel that we have done our homework.

Our first challenge was for the gameplay itself. Does it play nicely? Is the educational value high enough? We have done extensive play testing, and more will follow during the course of the campaign. In this aspect, we have succeeded.

The next risk is the production of the game itself. There has been a few detours, like 3D printing a custom made plastic component (a lot of fun, though). In the end, the game is made from standard board game components. Our producer is a renowned and experienced company in the board game industry, and should have no problems helping us deliver. But we'll keep a watchful eye on the process, just to be sure.

Next up is shipping. It looks like we will land on Fulfilment by Amazon. This path has been taken by many Kickstarter board game makers before us, and we have taken care to learn from their experience. Shipping is still a big challenge, and our top priority once the campaign succeeds.

In the end, if something fails to meet your expectations, we should be able to resupply in most cases. Failing that, there's always the refund.

That said, we have worked hard to make this project a reality, and will continue to do so to make you happy with Playing Lean.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge NOK 40 or more About $5

    PLAYING LEAN: AMBASSADOR
    Approx. $5

    Just want to keep track of the project and follow our progress? Every dollar counts - thank you for your support!

    We'll add you to the mailing list and keep you informed!

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    Pledge NOK 250 or more About $33

    PLAYING LEAN: OSLO LEAN MEETUP SPECIAL

    We're setting up a Backer's Only meetup at Iterate's office in Oslo to celebrate the end of our campaign and play a round of Playing Lean. Choose this level if you want to attend but haven't backed us yet!

    Remember to sign up at Oslo Lean Meetup too:

    http://www.meetup.com/agile-31/events/222849661/

    + The meetup will feature a "Kickstarter: Behind the Scenes" lightening talk.

    ++ All attendees will get a book of Ash's bestseller Running Lean to take home.

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    Pledge NOK 600 or more About $79

    PLAYING LEAN: BOOTSTRAPPER'S EDITION
    Approx. $80

    Are you in the process of starting your own business and want to improve your odds with Playing Lean? We love it!

    Please have our full game at the special bootstrapper reward level.

    We'll send you the game, complete with "Ash's guide to Playing Lean".

    Good luck!

    *free US shipping

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    Pledge NOK 950 or more About $125

    PLAYING LEAN: EARLY ADOPTERS
    Approx. $125

    We think you're the best for supporting us on Kickstarter, and will send you the full version of Playing Lean, complete with Ash Maurya's guide.

    + Because we like you so much, we're also throwing in 3 months of access to Leanstack, the Lean Canvas innovation accounting tool at a $87 value.

    *free US shipping

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    Pledge NOK 1,100 or more About $145

    PLAYING LEAN: BOOKIE EDITION
    Approx. $145

    You like to play games AND read books? Welcome to the club!

    We'll add in a copy of Running Lean, Ash Maurya's best selling book.

    + everything in the EARLY ADOPTER level

    *free US shipping

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    Pledge NOK 1,900 or more About $250

    PLAYING LEAN: TWO PIZZA TEAM
    Approx. $250

    It may be small for Amazon, but if your team needs two pizzas, it's going to need two games. Right?

    We'll send you two copies of Playing Lean.

    + A copy of Running Lean, the best selling book by Ash Maurya

    ++ 3 months of access for TWO to Leanstack, the Lean Canvas innovation accounting tool at a $87 value for each.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge NOK 2,250 or more About $296

    PLAYING LEAN: FACILITATOR
    Approx. $300

    Planning to do workshops with clients? We've done a ton of them! Pick this level and get access to a 90 minute live Q&A session for Playing Lean facilitators.

    + get a copy of our suggested slides for workshop presentations

    ++ everything in the EARLY ADOPTER level

    *free US shipping

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    Pledge NOK 3,000 or more About $395

    PLAYING LEAN: ILLUSTRATOR'S EDITION
    Approx. $400

    Do you love the illustrations on the game? Choose this reward level to become the proud owner of 3 of the ORIGINAL DRAWINGS for the game!

    + Attend a limited one hour webinar with Nils Holger Pohl, the master illustrator of Playing Lean. Perhaps you can learn some of his secrets?

    ++ Everything in the EARLY ADOPTER level

    *free US shipping

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    Pledge NOK 4,500 or more About $592

    PLAYING LEAN: RUNNING WITH ASH
    Approx. $600

    Who doesn't like to get some personal attention? Ash always gives great advice. Choose this level and get TWO 30 minute follow up calls with Ash Maurya!

    + A copy of Running Lean

    ++ Everything in the EARLY ADOPTER LEVEL

    *free US shipping

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge NOK 7,500 or more About $987

    PLAYING LEAN: LEAN UX SPECIAL
    Approx. $1000

    Meet with Jeff Gothelf, the author of the bestseller "Lean UX" for lunch at Tarallucci E Vino in New York, the place where VCs, founders and prospects go to make internet magic.

    Send Jeff your questions in advance. Get his best input on ways to build better cross-functional teams, design and ship more successful products and tackle your company’s specific issues!

    + Everything in the EARLY ADOPTER level

    *free US shipping

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge NOK 7,500 or more About $987

    PLAYING LEAN: BBQ WITH ASH
    Approx. $1000

    Meet up with Ash Maurya for a BBQ lunch in Austin. Empty his brain about Lean Canvases and get answers for all your questions about Lean Startup.

    + Get TWO 30 minute follow up calls with Ash for all the questions you forgot to ask

    ++ Get a signed copy of Running Lean

    +++ Everything in the EARLY ADOPTER level

    *free US shipping

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge NOK 8,200 or more About $1,079

    PLAYING LEAN: INTRAPRENEURS EDITION
    Approx. $1100

    You're going to transform your company. We're going to give you all you need!

    Let's start out with FIVE copies of Playing Lean.

    + Ten copies of Running Lean, the best selling book.

    ++ 3 months of access for FIVE to Leanstack, the Lean Canvas innovation accounting tool

    +++ A 30 minute follow up call with Ash Maurya

    *free US shipping

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge NOK 9,600 or more About $1,263

    PLAYING LEAN WORKSHOP
    Approx. $1275

    Simen or Tore will come to you and set up a great Playing Lean workshop for 12 people.

    + We'll leave the game behind, complete with Ash's guide.

    ++ Copies of Running Lean for every participant!

    +++ One 30 minute follow up call with Ash Maurya

    ++++ 3 months of access to Leanstack, the Lean Canvas innovation accounting tool

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge NOK 25,000 or more About $3,289

    PLAYING LEAN SPONSOR
    Approx. $3300

    You're making this all possible with your great contribution. To show our gratitude, we'll put your logo on the box that ships to the backers!

    + Everything that is included in the PLAYING LEAN WORKSHOP level

    ++ Three copies of Playing Lean

    +++ A very special facilitator's training session for 2, that includes all you need to set up a workshop

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Funding period

- (30 days)