Bad Systems Beat Good People

Is your organization getting the results that it is seeking? Every organization experiences undesirable results, but few truly understand what actions are required to implement change and obtain desirable and sustainable results.

This beer supply chain simulation has been carefully designed to illustrate the impact that systems, subsystems and other contributing factors have on organizational results. Fun encourages learning as participants are fully immersed into the simulation and fulfill the role of Factory, Distributor, Wholesaler or Retailer within the beer supply chain. Participants work strategically to fulfill their customer orders while keeping their weekly operational costs low.

Participants will experience firsthand the ineffectiveness of firefighting problems while running their supply chain operation and upon review of their final results. Strategies for analyzing the intricacies of systems that cannot be easily seen at the surface level are exposed during an interactive and dynamic debrief. Participants will understand that better results will only be realized by addressing opportunities and problems at the system level.

Beer Game

The Training Package

  • One spiral-bound facilitator guide with detailed facilitation and debrief guidance.
  • Participant Lean Systems Primer takeaway reference in 3 sizes (8.5″ x 11″, legal, 11″ x 17″) for easy reproduction.
  • Presentation slides in Power Point format.
  • Two full color supply chain game boards made of durable vinyl that resist permanent creases, clean easily and are conveniently sized to fit 2 standard folding tables (30″ x 144″).
  • Two colors of durable plastic chips that illustrate cases of beer moving to customers.
  • Two complete sets of spiral-bound supply chain visual aids that illustrate game steps for every supply chain position.
  • Two sets of pre-determined order cards that specify customer demand for the Retailer.
  • USB drive with all instructional materials provided as non-editable PDF files.

This learning product has been designed with two separate but complementary content focuses.

Foundational Systems Curriculum

Learners gain a foundational understanding of the interconnected elements that combine to create a system. More specifically, how activities, connections and flows contribute to results produced by a system.

The curriculum was designed to appeal to a variety of audiences including organizations exploring the lean journey, organizations new to the journey that are focused on establishing knowledge, and those organizations that have been pursuing the journey for some time and are advanced in their lean efforts.

Specific topics addressed include:

  • Bad Systems Beat Good People
  • Exploration of Systems using the Iceberg Model to illustrate the gap between firefighting and systems
  • The Activities, Connections and Flows of Systems
  • Systems Affect Behavior

Enhanced Supply Chain Content

The Beer Game: A Focus on Supply Chain Management builds upon the foundational systems curriculum and uses the events experienced throughout the simulation to dive deeper into the intricacies of system dynamics and supply chains.

Because this content builds upon the foundational curriculum, it should be delivered only in conjunction with the systems debrief. It is not intended as stand-alone curriculum. This enhancement is ideal for participants with a focused interest in supply chain system dynamics.

Specific topics addressed include:

  • System Dynamics and Characteristics
  • The Bullwhip Effect
  • Why Does Bullwhip Occur?
  • Examples of Bullwhip and the Impact of Bullwhip
  • How Do You Fix the Problem?

Beer Game in actionThe Beer Game flows quickly and can be completed in less than three hours for the basic foundational systems content. An additional thirty minutes is recommended for The Beer Game: A Focus on Supply Chain Management optional content.

The simulation begins by immersing participants into a poorly designed system for which they have limited information. Participants will experience a full range of emotions ranging from elation to panic as the game unfolds and the roller coaster of players’ responses and strategies work desperately within their supply chain operation to satisfy their customers’ weekly beer demand while maintaining low operational costs.

Now that participants have put forth their best effort in the game and have not achieved the successful results strategized within their operations, the program moves on to answer why participants achieved undesirable results – the curriculum’s central message that bad systems will beat good people every time. Although the common reaction when problems occur is to ask, ‘whose fault is it?‘ or ‘how can I get the problem to go away quickly?‘ neither of these questions will prevent the same problem from reigniting in the future and forcing people to scramble and firefight. We jump to assign blame without even considering that the person can only be as good as the process being used.

Next, the course explores the elements of a system. As participants learn about the activities, connections and flows that interconnect within a system, they will be armed with the knowledge necessary to identify and attack inefficient organizational systems.

The Beer Game is only available as part of our licensed training curriculum.  (All of our courses are available for license to be used as part of your internal training program)  For more information, please contact us or call 248.906.8605.