Kids still have small batch size instincts

Today I was at a carnival party with my two kids. Like me, they had been disappointed, so my mind mind started wandering and I wasn't really into it. But at a certain point I received a wake up call:

The kids were playing a game where they had to collect as many admission cards as possible from the grown ups. The kids had been called onto the stage to get explained the task: Go and collect as many cards as you can from all the grown ups in the room (admission for kids was free, so only grown ups had tickets). I guess it was by mistake that no time limit was explicitly given and no end signal was told when "collecting time" would be over. Music started and the kids started collecting. And collecting. And collecting. And they collected. And so on. Now every kid was already laden with tickets. But none of them brought their tickets to the "referee" of the game. It was a perfect raw at the time. No one had delivered any tickets (value). Now the hosts realized that they hadn't really explained the main rules to the kids:

  1. Only those tickets that are delivered to the referee are counted.
  2. Only those tickets that are delivered to the referee in time are counted. But no knows in advance when time is over. The signal of time over is simply that the music stops. Uncertainty is brought into the game.
As soon as the hosts explained those rules (while the kids where still collecting ... and collecting ... and collecting .... and so on), the kids completely changed their way of work from large batches to small batches. All of them instantly delivered their goods to the referee to mitigate the risk of not delivering anything before the music stops. During the remainder of the simple game, all of the kids delivered the goods in small batch sizes, further mitigating the risk of not delivering enough (value) in time.

I was quite happy watching this and it was great to see that these kids hadn't been consciously making a trade off between higher set up (or delivery) time for commuting between the audience and the referee and delivering value to the referee. They just knew they'd be sacked if they didn't deliver value. It was also great to see that they didn't even have to think about the need to reduce batch size.

What a diference to our industry, where it is still at times had to convince individuals and teams and Management of the manifold of advantages of small batch sizes like

  • risk management, 
  • early feedback, 
  • low coordination cost, 
  • lead time etc.
It was also interesting to watch that none of he kids chose single piece flow, as they felt that in tis setting it makes no economical sense. The holding cost was low, but the transaction cost too high for a batch size of one. They rather chose batch sizes in the sweet spots between 4-10 to manage risk. As the time went on, they reduced the batch size to further reduce the risk of being too late with too many tickets.
    For a long time I will remember this game as a perfect example of the value of small batch sizes in risk management while delivering value.
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