The Beer Distribution Game Management Flight Simulator

Our increasingly interconnected and dynamic world challenges managers to find new ways to understand and control change. The accelerating rate of technological, organizational, and social change means managers are faced with situations that are in many ways new, and must increasingly deal with the unexpected. Managers are not alone in facing such daunting tasks. Modern society is built upon systems of enormous complexity, from nuclear power plants to jumbo jets. A pilot, for example, must also control a system of great complexity and be prepared for the unexpected. There is, however, one significant difference between the pilot of a jet and the manager of a business. No airline would dream of sending a pilot up in the real thing before they had had extensive training in a flight simulator on the ground. The simulator allows the pilot to learn, to make mistakes, to experience the unexpected without risk to passengers or aircraft. Yet managers are expected to fly their organizations into unknown skies with their only training being management 'ground school' or experience as junior crew members.

This management flight simulator is based on the manual version of The Beer Distribution Game. In the manual game, teams of participants manage each level of the distribution chain. Their are four levels in the system - Retailer, Wholesaler, Distributor, and Factory. Each week, the players at each level receive shipments of beer from their suppliers, fill as much of their customers' orders as possible from their inventory, and place new orders for beer with their supplier. Their goal is to keep company costs as low as possible while meeting customer demand.

The Beer Distribution Game Management Flight Simulator gives you the opportunity to 'fly' a company yourself. The simulator functions just as an aircraft simulator does. You will take command of a firm and pilot it from start up to success. Each simulated time period you will make operational decisions and receive feedback from your past decisions. You may be surprised by side effects and delayed consequences of your own decisions. But there is no winning or losing. The purpose of the simulator is to give you insight into the behavior of a distribution system and to illustrate the difficulties of developing a robust strategy for managing even a very simple system. More fundamentally, the flight simulator is a laboratory in which you can systematically explore the consequences of various strategies without risking the fortunes of the real enterprise.

The Beer Distribution Game is not about and does not promote beer or drinking. It is about the dynamics of supply chains and teaches principles for effective management. The beer distribution system is chosen only as a representative instance among a wide variety of products and systems to which the lessons of this simulator are applicable. Hardware Requirements: The Beer Distribution Game Management Flight Simulator runs on the Macintosh family of personal computers, from the Mac Classic up, including Powerbooks. It is System 7 and 7.5 compatible. It requires only 800K bytes of RAM, and runs in color on color machines. The simulator includes a User's Guide and Instructor's Manual.

To order the Beer Game or get more information, please visit the System Dynamics Society: