The beer game LO20682
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 12:11:10 -0600

There have been a few posts lately about the origin of the beer game. I'm
too busy right now (i.e., too lazy) to look up the source, but not too
busy (i.e., caught in my own thoughts) enough to say something about it.
When I first read about the beer game in "The Fifth Discipline" I wondered
three things about the people who developed it: (1) whether they had any
experience in the real world; (2) whether they knew the simulation wasn't
realistic but did it anyway for its learning potential; or (3) whether
they had a better handle on the real world than I do.

The reason for this speculation is that my experience in the world of
industrial sales (in my early 20s) taught me that the middle man will not
survive in any economic conditions without a well-functioning network of
suppliers and reliable knowledge of customers' needs. One of the first
things I would do when inventory starts behaving erratically is to examine
my customers' needs in order to determine whether my product mix is out of
touch with their operations. Another thing would be to check with my
suppliers to find out what they see, or think is happening. Third, I
would see what the competition is up to. This is just basic business
practice. Perhaps the beer game relies on the assumption that the
telephone has not yet been invented.


* David E. Birren
Project Manager and Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Natural
(608) 267-2442
"Teach your tongue to say 'I do not know' and you will progress."
-- Maimonides


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