The Beer Game

Supply Chain Management Simulation



$150 / seat

Simulation Overview

We’ve become too clever for our own good, and often we cannot see the forest for the trees let alone the unintended consequences of our actions. 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

Based on the 1950s tabletop game developed by MIT’s Jon Sterman, the Beer Game is one of the most widely used management simulations. Play one of four roles in a dynamic supply chain for beer distribution (beer not included) as you and your partner manage the incoming and outgoing supply for your customer.

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, but rarely is it ever an individual’s fault. Everyone is part of a team, and what matters is the performance of the whole chain. It’s not bad apples, it’s bad barrels.

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.

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
  • Attribution Error
  • Leadership, Team-building, and the dynamics of cooperation and interpersonal skills

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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