For Martin Capriles, SF ’05, there is something almost magical about the Beer Game, a management simulator developed in the late 1950s by Jay Forrester and his students at the MIT System Dynamics Group. The game famously puts teams of students in charge of four components of a distribution chain. Players within each component—retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and factory—receive shipments of beer, fill as much of their customers’ orders as possible, and place new orders for beer with suppliers. As students make operational decisions and review the impact of past decisions, they inevitably are dismayed by the unintended side effects of their actions.
After leaving MIT, Martin Capriles headed back to Venezuela, his home country, where he was responsible for all commercial operations for the Venezuelan subsidiary of CEMEX. Almost immediately on arriving back at the office, he realized he needed to put the Beer Game into play—this time, with real world consequences.