In this paper we describe a modification of the Beer Distribution Game which we have used with MBA students and executives. In this version, we introduce a change in communication rules at the end of week 24. Our game debriefing addresses all of Senge’s five learning disciplines and stresses the basic question: how do we deal more effectively with underlying structure? This variation on the usual rules shows a way for designing experiments with the Beer Game to improve our understanding of how organizations learn.
The Management Flight Simulator is now being established as a tool to facilitate experiential learning with both undergraduate and postgraduate management students, and managers within learning organisations. Existing MFS provide user-friendly reports and graphical representations of historical data, designed to the limits of human computer interface (HCI) good practice. Although, existing MFS make use of sophisticated quantitative databases and models, but lack the softer data: managers’ in-trays, meeting notes, employee feedback, interviews with customers, press and television news reports, industry observers, financial analysts, and so on. Managers in real life rarely make decisions without going to look at a problem for themselves. Using multimedia MFS, users will be able to do the same, by interrogating and making observations using electronic-based media.
Management Flight Simulators (MFS) are now being used together with model-supported case studies in learning laboratories as part of undergraduate, graduate and executive courses, and also with managers in learning organisations. This paper reports results with three groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students, in a business school environment. With one group, a multi-stage experimental design is used to collect a variety of process data, including:
At its inception, the paradigm of SD was deliberately made distant from that of OR. Yet developments in 'soft' OR and systems theory now have much in common with current SD modelling practice. This paper briefly traces the parallel development of SD and soft OR and argues that a dialogue between the two would be mutually rewarding. To support this claim, example of soft OR tools are described along with some of the field's philosophical grounding and current issues. Potential benefits resulting from a dialogue are proposed, with particular emphasis on the methodological framework of SD. The paper closes with some suggestion on how to begin learning from the links between the two fields.
Managers involved in the production and trading of a commodity had adopted conflicting positions regarding the macro-dynamic behaviour of output and revenues in their market. The tools of system dynamics were used to articulate the assumptions of the participants and, in so doing, support a dialogue in which the understanding that the managers had of the key variables could be altered. The eventual use of a small STELLA model allowed the managers to isolate two specific, micro effects from which the conflict emanated. Further idea sharing allowed a consensus to be achieved on those two and, furnished with this new understanding, the participants aligned behind a single view of the market’s behaviour.
The form of the management flight simulator should follow from the functions it serves for the user. Interfaces designed to facilitate educational interventions should differ in functional form from interfaces designed to provide support systems for executives making real time decisions or conducting scenario planning exercises. Designers should consider the purpose of the interface, the nature of the interaction, the characteristics of the users, the context of use, and the style of presentation before developing the software application. This paper provides examples of how radically different design criteria lead a design team to choose different forms for several management flight simulators and executive-information systems.
A system dynamics model was develop for a company looking to reduce delivery times in projects involving the engineering, procurement and construction of complex equipment systems for pulp and paper mills. The model has some original features, particularly its portrayal of a critical path determined the ‘gates’ connecting sequential activities, which should be of general interest to project modelers. The model has helped the company identify practical ways to reduce delivery times by at least 30% and do so without driving up costs.
Advocates of the "Modelling as Learning" philosophy would not endorse a policy of handling over a ready-made model to a new client. In commercial environments, however, consultants and clients move on and there is pressure to maximise return on investment. This often means that existing System Dynamics models must be transferred between consultants and clients. Within the Business Consultancy department at Shell both the consultants and clients change jobs every three years or so and model handover is an issue that must be managed.
This paper investigates how mode-locking and other highly nonlinear dynamic phenomena arise through the interaction of two capital-producing sectors in a disaggregated economic long-wave model. One sector might represent the construction of building and infrastructure capital with long lifetimes while the other represents production of machinery, computers, etc. with much shorter lifetimes. Due to the positive feedback associated with capital self-ordering, each sector in isolation produces a self-sustained oscillation with a period and amplitude determine by the characteristics of that sector. However, the sectors interact through their mutual dependence on each other’s output for their own production. When this coupling is accounted for, the two sectors tend to synchronize or lock together with a rational ratio between the periods. While keeping the aggregate equilibrium characteristics of the system constant, we study how this locking occurs as a function of the difference in capital lifetimes and as a function of strength of the coupling between sectors. Besides mode-locking and quasi-periodic behavior, the observed phenomena includes cascades of period-doubling bifurcations, chaos, and intermittency. When the difference in capital lifetimes is very large, the system behaves like a one-sector model with a reduced capital content of production: Only one oscillatory mode remains, and it is much less pronounced than in the original one-sector model.
The Beer Distribution Game is one of the most popular ways of introducing managers and students to system dynamics. One of the reasons for this popularity is its success at teaching, on an experiential level, one of the fundamental principles of System Dynamics--that structure causes behavior. It does this in an entertaining and engaging manner. Some players have become so engaged in the experience that they want to explore the dynamics of game further. Because of this interest computer versions of the game have been developed to accelerate the opportunities to explore the game’s dynamics and make it easier to use and facilitate. This paper will highlight some of the features of these games which facilitate learning by individuals or teams.