The Beer Game
Copyright by Professor John Sterman, MIT October 1984
The Fifth Discipline: Pg 27-54
Why play the ‘Beer Game’?
Instructions for running the game
Steps of the Game
Outline for post-game discussion and tasks
Supplies Checklist & Mock-up of the Game Board
CHARTS AND TABLES TO PRINT OUT:
[only issue Table 1 and 2 at the onset of the game. Chart 1-3 to be distributed at the end of the game and before post-game discussion.]
Record Sheet: Cost of Inventory and Backlog
Computation of cumulative inventory backlog
Inventory and Backlog
Perceived order by Customers
Contact Point for loan of Beer Game Set:
If you or your unit is interested in playing this game and need assistance, please contact any of the 1Y LO participants, including the webmaster: Ms Sheila Damodaran at Sheila_Damodaran@spf.gov.sg. The game sets are kept at TRACOM's Resource Centre (SIRC, TRACOM). Contact: 3594241.
Why play the Beer Game?
The Fifth Discipline, pg 27
[Prisoners of the System, or Prisoners of our Thinking]
This game was developed by Professor John Sterman of MIT to introduce people to fundamental concepts of systems dynamics. Participants experience the pressure of playing a role in a complex system, and come to understand first hand a key principle of systems thinking that structure produces behavior.
The Beer Game is a simulation exercise – like a laboratory experiment, where one is able to see:
❑ The consequences of your decisions play out more clearly in real organisations;
❑ In effect it presents a microcosm of how a real organization functions.
❑ Shift in prevailing assumption of what is required of us for creating fundamentally different organisations; from a perspective of “the system we are trying to change is out there and we (as change agents) are trying to fix it” to “we and the system are inextricably linked together”.
It was first developed in the 1960s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. Because it is a “laboratory replica” of a real setting (rather than reality itself), we can:
❑ Isolate the disabilities, and;
❑ Their causes more sharply than is possible in real organisations.
Often this reveals that the problems originate in basic ways of thinking and interacting, more than in peculiarities of organisations and policy.
Instructions for Running
The Beer Distribution Game
This document outlines the protocol for the beer distribution game developed to introduce people to concepts of system dynamics. The game can be played by as few as four and as many as 60 people (assistance is required for larger groups). The only prerequisite, besides basic math skills, is that none of the participants have played the game before, or else agree not to reveal the "trick" of the game.
1. State purpose of Game:
a) Introduce people to the key principle "structure produces behavior"
b) Experience the pressures of playing a role in a complex system
2. Provide overview of production-distribution system:
a) The game is played on a board, which portrays the production and distribution of beer (show board game).
b) Orders for and cases of beer are represented by chips, which are manipulated by the players. The players at each position are completely free to make any decision that seems prudent. Their only goal is to manage their positions as best as they can to maximise profits.
c) Each brewery consists of four sectors: retailer,...
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