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The Beer Game-Systems Thinking

Week 2: Discussion Board

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As you read over the Beer Game in P. Senge’s bookThe Fifth Discipline, think of yourself as one of the four positions: retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and factory. After you are done reading, answer these questions:

  1. What position are you?
  2. Did you feel yourself “at the effect” of forces in the system from time to time? (i.e. relatively helpless in the face of huge incoming orders or excess inventories)
  3. Did you find yourself “blaming” the position next to you for your problems?
  4. What do you think the customers were doing?
  5. Is this an example of external events causing problems or the underlying structure of the system causing the problems?
  6. How do we deal more effectively with underlying structures?
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As I read the Beer Game in The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge enlightens on the ineffective communication, production, and distribution gaps among critical players in systems. These players include the manufacturing company, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers, who fail to see the main problem when either of them lags in executing their role accordingly. According to Senge (2004), these players end up blaming one another for the losses incurred after a tragic event. On this note, they focus on their interrelationship instead of identifying a linear cause-effect of the problem. From the four identified key players in the beer game, I pictured myself in the retailer position.

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