Running The Beer Game LO10025

Bill Harris (
Tue, 17 Sep 96 12:22:29 PDT


I'm a newcomer to this mailing list, and so I should introduce myself. I
first ran across some of Chris Argyris's work in The Fifth Discipline, and
I ran across The Fifth Discipline from an interest I had developed in
system dynamics back in the mid-80's. A group of us applied some of this,
especially action science, along with action research and sociotechnical
systems design, to a project we completed within the last year with a fair
amount of success. I've already gotten a lot out of the Web site in the
little bit of time since I discovered it; hopefully I can offer something
back at the appropriate time.

Now I have a question (a simple one, I think). I have the opportunity to
run a session of the Beer Game for a group of 16 people at this site. I
have the materials, I've seen the MacNeil-Lehrer Report video, and I
understand the basics behind the model.

With 16 people and 4 roles in each team, is there any reason _not_ to
split into 4 teams to increase the competition and to replicate the
"experiment" so that the lesson becomes more overwhelming? The only
reason I can see is if the typical group needs, say, 2 people per role to
master the simulation, in which case I'd have to go with two teams of 8


Bill Harris

[Host's Note: Hello Bill -- I'll jump in and reply here... Yes, there's
value in having two people for each position. With two, they aren't so
overwhelmed by the mechanics and aren't so isolated. There well be plenty
of competition with two teams and the whole thing will move a little
faster, avoiding the danger of dragging. I run the beer game frequently
and I prefer teams of six to eight people. ... Rick Karash]

Bill Harris                             Hewlett-Packard Co. 
R&D Productivity Department             Lake Stevens Division 
domain:               M/S 330
phone: (206) 335-2200                   8600 Soper Hill Road
fax: (206) 335-2828                     Everett, WA 98205-1298 

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