The Beer Game


Some of you may have read the recent Business Week article about simulations and case studies. Our Operations class has had its fair share of simulations during the last 8 weeks as Deanne mentioned earlier. Simulations provide a refreshing alternative to case studies since you have to make real decisions that will affect the outcome of your group’s performance.

This week’s class allowed Deanne and me to both share in the opportunity to try managing a supply chain for beer. Our combined class allowed the cohorts to get together and socialize a bit too. Although we had read about the bullwhip effect in our book, there’s nothing like a hands-on scenario to see how the theory really works out. I got to play the part of the retailer, seeing true demand, and how the fulfillment of demand gets all out of whack when your buddies up the supply chain start guestimating what they think you want. The chips represent individual cases of beer that need to be moved through the supply chain and we physically moved supply between each level of the chain. The aspect of having real beer during the game made it all the more entertaining.

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