The Distribution Channel Game


  • Richard Teach


This is an easy-to-use exercise, which demonstrates some of the unanticipated affects of a change in demand upon inventory levels at points in the distribution channel and the capacity levels needed for manufacturing. The exercise works best with 21 participants but can be used with as few as 10. If there are more than 21 in the session or class, they are able to learn by observation and are able to actively participate in the debriefing. Observation of this game is almost as informative as participation. The exercise requires between an hour and an one and one half hours to complete and debrief. It emphasizes that even when every partner in a product’s distribution channel behaves in a rational manner, the results may be very detrimental to every one. The participants blame the bad outcome on each other, calling their behavior irrational. The results if fully debriefed causes the participants to question the system and not each other’s behaviors.