The Beer Game

MIT Supply Chain Management Simulation

$165 / seat

Simulation Overview

The beer game is a supply chain simulation that illustrates the bullwhip effect, demonstrating how small fluctuations in consumer demand can lead to amplified fluctuations in inventory and ordering throughout a supply chain. This classic simulation focuses on systems thinking and how the weakest link in the chain is not one person, but the whole chain itself.

Time Requirement

  • Introduction - 15 minutes
  • Game Play - 1 hour to 1.5 hours
  • Debrief - 30 minutes to 1 hour

The Story

Forio developed this online simulation with MIT professor John Sterman based on the tabletop game. The Beer Game is one of the most widely used supply chain management simulations. Play one of four positions in a dynamic supply chain for beer distribution as you and your colleagues manage the incoming and outgoing supply.

Each role can influence the entire chain by ordering too much or too little. Often called the “bullwhip effect,” this error can worsen shortages and overstock and wreak havoc on supply chains.

When things go wrong, we often look for scapegoats. The Beer Game addresses the often erroneous, negative attributions we make about others, how they erode trust in organizations, and what can be done to overcome these self-reinforcing beliefs. It’s not bad apples, it’s bad barrels.

This multiplayer game scales to any size and teaches the principles of systems thinking, supply chain management, as well as leadership, and teamwork. Play remote, in-person, or hybrid and scale from four to 400–or 4,000 or more.

Learning Focus

  • Bullwhip Effect
  • The MIT Beer Game
  • Introduction to Systems Thinking and mental models
  • Structure and dynamics of supply chains
  • Unintended consequences of decisions

Topics Covered

  • Supply Chain Management, Operations Management
  • Systems Thinking and System Dynamics
  • Bullwhip Effect
  • Leadership, Team-building, and the dynamics of cooperation and interpersonal skills

See it in Action

This simulation is WCAG Compliant for the participants.

Each simulation comes with a Teaching Guidebook for the facilitator along with 1:1 facilitator training and free trials.

This simulation is by John Sterman, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Forio

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