Case Study

How Supply Chain Consultants Deploy the Beer Game to Gain Client Trust

Discover the benefits of the Beer Game for consulting companies in internal training or customer engagement

Consultants high five - successful Zensimu implementation
In this article:

    In our series of use cases, we want to showcase how the classic production-distribution simulation from MIT goes well beyond teaching supply-chain concepts like lead times and the Bullwhip Effect. A beer game can be leveraged in a wide variety of scenarios, roles and industries for team-building, lean and continuous improvement, and achieving operational excellence. Part One of our series zooms in on how Supply Chain and Management Consultants and their clients can all benefit from “Beer Game” sessions.

    For supply chain and management consultants, their mission is clear: to parachute into client territory and deliver a fresh point of view — an outsider’s perspective with years of industry expertise. They are there to solve complex problems, propose solutions based on industry best practices and even assist in implementing new processes and tools within the company.

    There’s just one problem. Maybe the individuals in the multitude of teams throughout the company aren’t exactly warm to the idea of an outsider change agent “invading” their operation. Maybe they don’t feel like they need to be on the receiving end of a rescue mission or — even worse — view the consultant with mistrust or hostility. 

    All the expertise and efficiency in the world can’t guarantee that a consultant will be welcomed as a friendly force for good. And without total trust and cooperation from the company teams, it will be very difficult — if not mission impossible — for the consultant to gain all the information they need to succeed. 

    This is where Zensimu's Beer Game comes into play. This interactive, 100%-remote web application provides a fun and engaging icebreaker for supply chain and management consultants to immediately establish a relaxed and trusting relationship with team members. Even if consultants are already incorporating the classic game in their training sessions, chances are they’re running it manually by piecing together Excel spreadsheets and Post-it notes. 

    But with the Beer Game, consultants can:

    • Engage teams around global objectives and instill a continuous-improvement mindset.

    • Tackle a wide range of topics — from simple:  forecasting, planning, inventory management — to complex: supply-chain design, strategy, organization, and more!

    • Set up and launch games in seconds.

    • Share games effortlessly with hundreds of participants.

    • Customize games within a particular industry context, including white-label branding.

    Agile project - Lean methodology with Zensimu trainings

    Agile project - Lean methodology with Zensimu trainings

    Agile project timeline

    As for the client, these game sessions let project members get to know each other in a fun and comfortable environment. They also increase understanding of common challenges and behaviors impacting supply-chain performance and flexibility, provide participants with fresh ideas and opportunities to help them reflect on their own business practices, and help all departments identify potential risks and make better-informed decisions. Ultimately, this all improves collaboration and information-sharing across all departments.

    Not only does the Beer Game establish great working relations, the professional look-and-feel of the app’s UX increases and/or matches your consulting firm’s brand credibility. In addition, through conducting the game sessions, consultants better grasp and internalize client challenges. They can even use the app to train junior consultants, helping them expand their knowledge base, skills and increase their self-confidence and performance.

    Consultants laughing at laptop

    Consultants laughing at laptop

    Perhaps above all, supply chain and management consultants can parachute in with a bit of fun and a breath of fresh air. The intervention of a change agent can potentially be stressful for operational teams, so why not deflate any anxiety and encourage positive collaboration from the start? By letting the various departments begin by playing with each other in a light and engaging game session, consultants can set the stage for positive cooperation and openness to improvement in the latter phases of the mission.

    And really, wouldn’t it be more fun to be warmly welcomed each day as an ally instead of the enemy?