We had this additional Supply Chain Management class on a Friday a few weeks ago called the Beer Game. As much as we all dread a Friday evening class, the turn out and experience were unexpectedly fun. Granted there was no actual beer involved (which would have helped a Friday evening class after such a busy week schedule), but we left the session learning a lot about key supply chain principles.
The Beer Game (or The Beer Distribution Game) was developed in MIT Sloan in the 1960s to demonstrate key principles of supply chain management. In teams of eight, two people take the roles of the retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and factory. The idea of the game is that the retailer would draw a card that represents customer's demand, and they would have to react accordingly upstream towards the wholesaler, distributor, and finally the factory. The catch is between the four firms no direct communication is allowed. The result was interesting, but what is more shocking is that through out the years that this game has been played, the result is always the same.
I would love to explain this wonderful educational game in writing but I suggest you try it yourself in this simulation. Enjoy!