Friday, September 24, 2004

Engaging a Large Group in a Game

For those of you looking to create a game which can involve a large number of people, The Beer Game is an example of a game that a group can play, with minimal props. It's a logistics game that was originally developed by MIT in the 60s. The purpose of the game was to demonstrate system dynamics, emphasizing that the way that we react in various situations lure us into standard ways of thinking that we accept without question, as exemplified by responses such as it has always been that way.

People are divided up into groups which represent retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers. Each group's goal is to provide for their customer, the next link in the supply chain, while reducing their costs. Backlog costs, for instance, $1.00, and inventory costs $0.50 (this is a good demonstration of how assessing value to certain elements in a game drives behavior). What usually ends up happening is each group experiences some sort of lag or overage. They compensate in order to keep their costs down and a ripple effect occurs through the supply chain. Lessons learned include understanding the importance of cooperation, communication, and information.

Some links for more information:
Beer Game Guide; Beer Game Overview; Beer Game Online



At 10:35 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

I just read your post and the beer game rules and found it intriguing that people all had the same types of responses. I wonder if you played this game in another country if the results would be the same. I'll bet someone has done a study on it somewhere. My guess would be that experienced business executives wouldn't overeact, but novices would, regardless of the culture.


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